Photo from Coastal Breeze News

Cape Romano Dome House

Photo from Coastal Breeze News
Photo(Coastal Breeze News): The house was planned to be fully self sufficient and eco-friendly.

Built in 1981 on the southern tip of Marco Island, the Dome House is an igloo-like concrete complex made up of white dome chambers, now decaying and slipping slowly into the ocean. Many know about it’s whereabouts but it’s origins were up to debate; from alien to secret cults. In truth, it was built by a retired oil producer and inventor.

Bob Lee began work on the house in 1980 with the idea that it would be completely self-sufficient and eco-friendly. Purchasing a barge, he began by moving the necessary supplies to the island, including the metal dome forms, two concrete mixers and fresh water to mix the cement.

Florida’s turbulent weather was taken into account and the sturdy, rounded domes were able to sustain hurricane winds, having taken little damage from Hurricane Andrew years later. Having a second use, rain water would hit the domes and would wash down into a gutter system which surrounded them, which lead into a cistern under the main dome. After running the water through filters, the water was then able to be used for things such as showers or dishwashing. Solar panels were installed providing free electricity to the house.

After it’s completion in 1982, Lee and his family sold just two years later in 1984. When the owner got into financial troubles, they repossessed the home in 1987 and lived in it until 1993. By that time, the island was already changing and had washed away other homes in the area.

Photo: 2005 aerial photograph of the Dome House.

It was purchased in 2005 by the John Tosto family with the hopes of renovating the home and making it functional again. Tosto planned on relocating the domes off state-owned lands and bring them into compliance with county building codes. The domes will be moved by crane and set atop new concrete or steel pilings more than 50 feet from the high tide line and at least 25 feet away from wetlands behind the site.Construction materials will be delivered by barge, and work will be timed to avoid sea turtle and shorebird nesting seasons, the permit application says.

Deemed unsafe, the Collier County Code Enforcement Board issued an order in 2007 to demolish the structures. Having already invested $500,000 into the parcel, he refused and was fined for $187,000 in 2009. Tosto spoke of having a vision, and said destiny, not luck, would allow him to prevail, still believing he could save the home.

The structures remain there to this day but are so far from the shore due to changing shoreline, that any attempt at saving them has probably long been lost.

Photo by Marci Seamples, 2013
Photo(Marci Seamples, 2013): The only thing keeping the house above the water are the pylons the concrete pylons they sit on.

Photographer: Marci Seamples
Year Taken: 2013
Website: Flickr

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Coastal Breeze News

Photo by Bullet, 2011

Sugarland District Pump House

Photo by Bullet, 2011
Photo(Bullet, 2011): The pump house is nothing but a rusted, tin shed nowadays.

Up until the early 1930s, South Florida was mostly inhospitable swampland. It wasn’t until after the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set out to build a levee around Lake Okeechobee in an effort to control the waters as well as making the land more accessible and usable.

The federal government aided in building the main canal systems in order to drain the land and to control the flow of water, but the individual land owners were responsible for building and maintaining the secondary canals and drainage ditches that made specific tracks of land usable for farming and habitation.

It remained that way until the late 40s, when the state decided that something better was needed and formed the first “Drainage Districts”.

The particular pump house is located in the Sugarland Drainage District. As opposed to other pump houses in the area, this one has been neglected for years. Inside are a pair of old Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines, capable of moving 40,000 gallon of water per minute.

When I visited in 2011, there was a third, smaller pump engine that was working, so the pump house was still being used in some way.

Photo by Bullet, 2011
Photo(Bullet, 2011): The diesel engines were capable of pumping 40,000 gallons of water a minute.

Photographer: Bullet
Year Taken: 2011
Website: Abandoned Florida


55 Bodies Exhumed at Dozier School for Boys

University of South Florida announced Tuesday that they have exhumed 55 bodies at the closed Florida’s Dozier School for Boys, a reform school notorious for the abuse which occurred there. That’s five more than what previous fieldwork had indicated and 24 more bodies than what official records indicate should be there.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that among the bodies, anthropologists found artifacts including belt buckles, zippers, coffin hardware, buttons, bottles of embalming fluid and a marble in a boy’s pocket. They found more modern debris, signs that part of the cemetery had been used as a dump. They also found remains under a road, under a tree and spread throughout surrounding forest.

The school opened in 1900, known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys, the Florida School for Boys and the Dozier School for Boys. Throughout the years, inspections made by the state found that kids were handcuffed and hung from the bars in their cells, hog-tied, put in isolation for up to three-weeks at a time and beaten with a leather strap in a building known as “The White House”.

The state closed the school in 2011, claiming that operating the school wasn’t within the budget.

Over 500 men, former inmates who described themselves as the “White House Boys”, have stepped forward with stories of abuse by the staff. Many of these allegations were of the previously mentioned “White House”, where whippings were carried out with a 3-feet-long belt made of leather and metal and were thorough enough that the recipients’ underwear became embedded in their skin. Some alleged they were whipped until they had lost consciousnesses and that they would hit you harder if you cried. Some former inmates also claimed there was a “rape room” at the school where they were sexually abused.

USF hopes to identify the bodies using samples with DNA collected from the families of boys who died at Dozier. The team says it recovered “bones, teeth and numerous artifacts in every one of the 55 burials”

Florida's Forgotten Past