Tag Archives: house

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

Archive Photos

Coastal Breeze News

Photo by Bullet, 2014

‘Honky Ranch’ Treehouse

Photo by Drew Perlmutter, 2012
Photo(Drew Perlmutter, 2012): The treehouse was built with bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen.

James Talmage “Tokey” Walker developed a strong work ethic at an early age. He delivered newspapers and sorted dirty diapers at the Swan Laundry to save enough money to attend the University of Alabama, where he hoped to earn a law degree. The collapse of the banks during the Great Depression saw his savings and his educational aspirations lost and the direction of his life changed.

Inspired by his father’s cousins, pioneers of southern aviation, he took up flying. During World War II, he served as a civilian flight instructor for the United States Navy at the University of Georgia. He and his wife later moved to Marietta, Ga., where Mr. Walker was a production test pilot for the B-29 bomber.

Photo by Nomeus, 2008
Photo(Nomeus – Flurbex.com, 2008): The buildings on the propery have been vandalized throughout the years.

In October 1945, the Walkers moved to Clearwater at the invitation of the late Robert J. Word, who had been a flight instructor in Georgia. They went into business together, renting and selling airplanes and giving flying lessons. When the government discontinued underwriting the cost of teaching war veterans how to fly, the company was converted and they began constructing window frames out of aluminum.

The business was renamed Metal Industries, now known as J. T. Walker Industries.

In the 60s, James Walker purchased a plot of land in Brooksville and began raising Charolais cattle, which he later converted into a commercial nursery years later. In the early-70s, he constructed a massive 3-story tree house on the property for his grandchildren, and included bedrooms, bathrooms and even a kitchen.

Photo by Nomeus, 2008
Photo(Nomeus – Flurbex.com, 2008): Everything inside have since been destroyed or stolen.

Mr. Walker was involved with the Clearwater YMCA and the Lions Club and was a founding member of the Springtime City Kiwanis Club. He was chairman of the Morton Plant Hospital Charity Ball in 1989 and was awarded the Golden Flame Philanthropy Award in 2000 in recognition of the donation he made in memory of his late wife, Sarah, who passed away in 1996.

James Walker passed away in 2003.

After his death, his property in Brooksville was abandoned, though it is still owned by J. T. Walker Industries. The buildings on the property have been vandalized throughout the years, for example, police arrived for training drills to find two men stealing copper wiring in 2007. A few years later, marijuana was found growing inside one of the greenhouses on the property.

Locals are concerned as a number of people have been caught there and the vandalism worsens.

Photo by Nomeus, 2008
Photo(Nomeus – Flurbex.com, 2008): Dubbed ‘Honky Ranch’ after Flurbex member, Incredible Honky, discovered the abandonment in 2008.

Photographer: Bullet
Year Taken: 2014
Website: Abandoned Florida

Photographer: Drew Perlmutter
Year Taken: 2012
Website: Flickr

Photographer: Nomeus
Year Taken: 2008
Website: FLURBEX

Medical Neglegence

Urban exploration isn’t only about exploring abandoned places but about hanging out with friends, interacting with the locals and finding the small details that gives these places character. I thought I’d share some stories with you throughout the following weeks.

I first explored the now-demolished William Robinson house back in 2009. Back then, there wasn’t as much damage done to the property as the years that followed. You weren’t able to enter through the front as it was boarded up but the back door was always unlocked. There was no graffiti, the doors and windows were still intact and the floors weren’t falling from underneath you.

In one of the kids’ rooms, among the moldy stuffed animals and broken race cars, was a small plastic box filled with medical equipment and old x-ray scans tucked beneath the bed. Among the scans was a small water-damaged diary, all the pages were blank except for one page. The following is how it was written, nothing had been changed. Here is what it said:


My name is Toini and I am ten years old and in the 5th grade. I have 2 brothers named Joey(3) and Pentti(6). Pentti died when he was 3 and I was 7. He died a month and 3 days before he would have been 4. It was through medical neglegence. I still wish I could make both doctors pay the way I did. My brother had brain damage. I love him and miss him and always will. My parents are great too. My dad(52) is a saxophonist and is a QVC person also. My mom(45) is a Mary-Kay and Avon lady. She likes sales and thinks Mary-Kay is better.

The family would soon abandon the home as the damages caused by Hurricane Frances deemed the house uninhabitable.

You can read more about the history of the house here.