The past few weeks have been challenging for our Southwest Florida community as we began to assess the damage left behind by Hurricane Ian. Our area experienced surging floods, as well as dangerous winds, causing our home to change like never before. Although many Marco Island homeowners were fortunate to sustain repairable damage, one island landmark wasn’t so lucky. The Cape Romano domes, known to many locals as the “Dome Homes” were washed away in the treacherous waters brought on by the storm, never to be seen again. For decades, they have been a source of curiosity and wonder for our community, and now, we have to accept the fact that they’ll live on, but only in our memories. So, what was so intriguing about these homes and what drew so many people to admire them often? Let’s delve into the history of Marco Island’s famous ‘Dome Homes’ and discover why they were regarded as a Marco landmark for generations.
Construction commenced on these dome-like structures in 1980, with creator, Bob Lee, working diligently to design a home that would be self-sufficient, as well as beneficial to the environment. Constructed of metal dome-shaped materials, the domes were built with southwest Florida’s weather in mind. Built to withstand the harsh winds and rains our area tends to experience, especially during hurricane season, the Cape Romano domes were believed to be ideal for our climate. The proof was when Hurricane Andrew struck in the early 90s, leaving the domes almost completely unscathed. Despite all of the work that went into building this interesting structure, however, the Lee family was forced to move out just two years into living there, due to financial strain.
Nature Begins to Take Over
In 1987, Lee was able to take ownership of the dome houses once again, but to his dismay, the shore was slowly eroding and the homes were steadily making their way into the water. Although the homes were eventually heading into the water for good, that didn’t stop the Lee family from living there for another six years, since the homes were built on pilings and protected from the waters below. As the years went on, plans to relocate the domes were in play; however, this never came into fruition. Slowly, the beach eroded away and the domes began to sit as sentries out in the open waters.
The Cape Romano Domes Today
When Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, two of the domes were washed away, and just recently, Hurricane Ian demolished the remaining four domes with its intense rain, dangerous storm surge, and relentless winds. The Cape Romano domes will forever be a fond memory, built out of a dream to create something unique, making them key elements in Marco Island’s rich history.
Other facts you may not know include:
- Access to the domes was only available by water.
- They utilized solar power and recycled water.
- The homes featured six connected structures, which included three bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,400 sq. ft. of living space.
- They began as a vacation destination for the Lee family.
- You’ll still be able to view them underwater as a reef.
As we continue to take in the rich history of the area, the Cape Romano domes will live on in our memories. For now, we’ll continue to enjoy the breathtaking beaches, balmy breezes and timeless character that radiates throughout Marco Island.
Gulfstream Homes is ready to help you build a home on Marco Island! Call (239) 254-1664 or visit www.gulfstreamhomes.com to get started.