Perhaps one of the most popular tourist attractions in Clermont is the Florida Citrus Tower, which was built in 1956. It is 69 meters tall and it used to be one of the most famous landmarks in Lake County, Florida. It was built to allow people to observe the beautiful, surrounding orange groves. It is still the highest observation point in the state of Florida today with an antenna extending 15 meters above sea level. The view from the top of the tower in 2018, however, is of suburban neighborhoods rather than miles of orange groves. The structure is currently owned by Greg Homan and today, in addition to being a popular tourist attraction, it is used for observation and radio broadcasting.
The developers of the tower were A.W.Thacker and F.J.Toole. They wanted to create something to showcase the state’s thriving citrus fruit industry. The construction was funded by the sale of stock to the public and began in 1955. The project required the use of 149 thousand pounds of reinforced steel and about 5 million pounds of concrete. The construction took a total of 13 months for completion.
During the first five years of operation, the Florida Citrus Tower was drawing in over half a million visitors a year to the area. Its convenient location between Silver Springs and Cypress Gardens on Highway 27 perhaps helped to draw up visitors numbers. Since its construction, the tower has been resold multiple times and the current owner purchased it in 1995. Who knows when it will next be for sale.
A new coat of paint was applied to the Tower is April 2015, resorting the building’s color scheme, after 20 years of absence, to that of its original iconic 1956 white and orange stripe appearance. Prior to April 2015, the Tower had been sporting an aging turquoise and white paint job.
At the base of The Citrus Tower is a wishing well. Tourists can drop coins from the top of the tower into the well and hear a satisfying plop. The proceeds from the wishing well are donated each year to the Green Isle Children Ranch. Inside the tower, there is a museum, a banquet room, and a gift shop. The museum contains information about the tower’s history. The Tower is particularly popular during the Christmas season when the external lights flash in time to various famous Christmas tunes.