Florida, known for its vibrant culture and bustling tourist attractions, also harbors a number of famous abandoned places, each with its unique history and allure. Here’s a list of some of the most well-known abandoned sites in Florida.
Strange Abandoned Dome Houses
Built in 1980 at Cape Romano, these dome constructions was a DIY project of retired oil producer Bob Lee. His family spent much of the 80’s nside the self-sustaining and solar-powered homes but started visiting less after 1992 when hurricane Andrew caused damage in the area but not the dome houses themselves.
In 2005 the abandoned houses were purchased by John Tosto just before hurricane Wilma caused serious damage to the domes and washed away some of the coastline. Two years later the local authorities asked Tosto to remove the houses but his inaction resulted in hefty fines.
Today the dome houses remain abandoned and completely reclaimed by the sea and only accessible by boat for locals and tourists to explore.
The Story of Lehigh Acres is sad and uniquely American. In the 1950s, Businessmen Gerald Gould and Lee Ratner (who got rich selling D-Con rat poison) divided up a huge stretch of land in southern Florida, owned by Ratner, into tiny half-acre parcels that they then sold to Northerners for low, low prices. At ten bucks down and ten a month, it seemed like a bargain; however, there was no infrastructure in place (schools, roads, running water) and very few houses were built. Many lots were resold when checks stopped coming in, and the place was still pretty barren by the ’80s.
When the real estate boom of the late ’90s began, however, hundreds of cheap, quick houses started flying up on those old lots that baby boomers had inherited from their gullible parents. Far, far too many houses to actually meet the demand to live there. And when the real estate bubble popped, the suburbs of Lehigh Acres became a veritable ghost town.
There are many blocks with only one or two occupied houses, many with none at all. Plants, flowers and alligators rule over this vast, empty suburban skeleton; one can easily imagine that they are in an alternate universe where the Cold War turned out a bit differently.
Here’s a list of some of the most well-known abandoned sites in Florida:
- Six Flags Atlantis Water Park: Once a popular water park located in Hollywood, Florida, it was closed due to damage from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and has since remained abandoned.
- The Howey Mansion: Situated in Howey-in-the-Hills, this historic mansion was built in the 1920s but fell into disrepair. It was abandoned for years but has recently been restored and reopened for events.
- Miracle Strip Amusement Park: Located in Panama City Beach, this park was a popular destination from 1963 until its closure in 2004. Many of its rides and structures were left abandoned and have since been dismantled or relocated.
- Belleview-Biltmore Hotel: Once one of the largest and most famous hotels in Florida, located in Belleair, it was closed in 2009. Parts of it were demolished, and only a portion remains, which is being redeveloped.
- Sunland Mental Hospital in Orlando: Originally opened as a tuberculosis hospital, it later became a hospital for the mentally disabled before being closed and abandoned in the 1980s. The building was demolished in 2015, but the site remains a point of urban legends and local lore.
- The Koreshan Unity Settlement: Near Estero, this was the site of a utopian community founded in the late 19th century. The site is now a state historic park, with several abandoned and preserved structures.
- The Ma Barker House: Located in Ocklawaha, this house was the site of a famous shootout in 1935 and has been left largely untouched since then. It’s noted for its historical significance.
- Aguirre Springs Rocket Site: Near Miami, this site was used for rocket testing during the early days of space exploration. The abandoned structures and test equipment are still visible.
- Old Victoria Hospital in Miami: This historic hospital, closed in the late 20th century, has been abandoned for years. Its classic architecture and eerie ambiance attract urban explorers.
These sites offer a glimpse into Florida’s diverse history, from futuristic housing projects and bustling amusement parks to historical mansions and eerie medical facilities. While some of these places are being repurposed or restored, others remain frozen in time, serving as haunting reminders of the past.