The Iconic Water Tower
by Holly Houser, Ocean Reef Press Editorial Assistant
The distinctive tower located by the Inn is a well-recognized symbol of Ocean Reef, and while today it is a silhouette Members are quite familiar with, at the Club’s humble beginning its purpose was that of an actual water tower – to pressurize water for distribution throughout the community.
In 1945, when founder and developer Morris Baker purchased what would eventually develop into Ocean Reef Club, access to water and the lack of potable water were significant issues. The following is an excerpt from the Ocean Reef history book “On The Reef” describing how Baker solved the problem and created an Ocean Reef icon.
“…The Bakers came up with a workable, if time-consuming, solution. The water tower, which today is a picturesque landmark, was built almost immediately to store both rainwater and the water trucked in daily from Key Largo. Two army trucks were driven six or eight times a day to the intersection of US 1 and what is today CR 905 where they tapped the main waterline, which the United States Navy had installed. This was the only fresh water on Key Largo.”
Over the ensuing decades, the measures of getting potable water to the Ocean Reef community would change several times before arriving at today’s system.
While the tower itself hasn’t been used as a working water tower for many years now, it has continued to stand as an Ocean Reef icon, though looking slightly different now from when it was first built.
Through the course of its history, the water tower was destroyed by Hurricane Betsy in 1965, was painted pink, along with much of the Club, in 1991 under the direction of then Club President Chris Hewett, and has stood the test of time as the oldest standing structure at Ocean Reef.
The signature water tower has proudly flown the American flag and Club’s burgee for many years, welcoming Members home and remaining a beloved symbol of Ocean Reef Club.