10-28-19 – West Martello Tower Garden Club


Key West was the only southern city allied with the Federal government during the Civil War. This is where the presence of Fort Zachary Taylor and both East and West Martello Towers originated. Fort Zach is located at the southwestern tip of the island, while West Martello is found along the southern coast at Higgs Beach and East Martello is located near the airport.

Fort Zach began construction in 1845 and was completed 21 years later in 1866. The construction of the Martello Towers also took considerable time. In 1836, Colonel Joseph Gilmore Totten originally planned to build nine forts in Key West. Due to budget, this was revised to one fort, being Fort Zach, and two advanced batteries, being the Martellos. It would take nearly 30 years before construction began on the towers. The West Martello battery was completed in 1863, but work ceased in 1873 and the tower was never armed. It became a quarry for residents.

In 1878, two small guns were installed and the tower was used during the Spanish American War for quartering troops, storage, signaling and lookout. During World War II, it was used for radio stations and as an anti-aircraft battery.

By 1947, all Army personnel were released from the island and the two towers were turned over as property of Monroe County. Meanwhile, Fort Zach remained would property of the Navy.

Two years later, when the tower was threatened by demolition, the Key West Garden Club stepped in to preserve the historic site. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and today serves a one-of-a-kind Key West attraction for both history and horticulture buffs.

Source: trollytours.com

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