Cape Romano is an island just south of Marco Island, off Naples, in Collier County, Florida. Back before climate change was mainstream, people purchased lots of these fragile islands and built houses. Of the three on Cape Romano, the Dome House is the most famous. (Blog forthcoming). However, personally, I’m captivated by the Pyramid House. Not only did the family live in the structure, they brought their pets to join them in island bliss…until it wasn’t.
Cape Romano is the southern point in a chain of islands making up the Ten Thousand Islands off just south of Marco Island. At some point in the 1060s, entrepreneurial salesmen decided to sell plots on the beach facing the Gulf of Mexico. This was Florida’s “I’ve got a bridge to sell you” land scam. It was also before climate change became our generations danger.
Montague “Monte” Innes convinced his wife, Judy, that he could build a house on the island where they could live an almost off-the-grid lifestyle. And it worked for several years.
According to a recent interview with Judy, the plot was on Caxambas Island, part of the Ten Thousand Island chain. (Note: the landscape of the island chain has substantially shifted with erosion. The island boundaries have changed over the years.) Monte purchased a barge to bring over the supplies and with the assistance of a friend named Harry, they constructed the 3-story cedar pyramid-shaped house.
Honestly, Monte, and with the Dome house builder Bob Lee, were decades before their time. Both men devised ways for the families to survive and thrive with solar power for Bob and windmills for Monte, generators, and water filtration systems. Judy and Monte even had a waterbed! Monte used extra pilings to secure the floor.
The house had rooms butted against the front wall and a large 3-story lanai along the back. What made the Pyramid special were 4 golden mirrors placed upon the top. Sunshine reflected off the mirrors, resembling the Egyptian pyramids. The other feature consisted of a menagerie of animals Judy kept. Monte built 5 aviaries for Judy to breed birds. Five emus had full run of the island.
Online forums house postings from people from all over who passed via boats the homes while growing up. As the homes were only accessible by watercraft, the homeowners had to bring over supplies and animals on barges. The horses are the most discussed topic. Judy brought over two horses, Notice Me (Twiggy) and Koko individually in a horse trailer fastened to the barge. They arrived in 1978. By May of 1987, Judy removed the horses and relocated them to her Naples property.
The youngest daughter, Heather, was a high school student while residing on the island. Each school day, she took a small John boat to Marco Island to get to school. What an incredible life!
In 1988, Judy was injured while riding a horse and never returned to the island. Monte and Judy divorced; Heather would look after the animals and began to bring them to mainland.
Shortly after Judy and Monte sold the pyramid house to a couple from Ohio, it sustained great damage from a hurricane. Judy says a tornado brought down the house.
Erosion, however, was always on their minds. When they constructed the pyramid, there was roughly 2,000 feet between the house and the water. Rapid erosion quickly diminished the distance, and then Mother Nature finished it off.
The area is not haunted—that I know of. However, it is a part of my childhood, having seen the houses and heard the talk, and I wanted to share that Florida is known for some odd things. And a cedar pyramid on an island in South Florida is one of them!