Key West Garden Club
Key West Garden Club

HISTORY - West Martello Tower

1949
West Martello claimed as an eyesore to shoreline. Pressure on County to level the Tower and put in a new beach area. Representative Joe Allen appalled to see what remained of the old fort prevailed on commissioners to stop the demolition. The Key West Garden Club took interest in the old fort. Through the efforts of Representative Allen, lend-lease agreement arranged between Monroe County and the Garden Club
1976
West Martello Tower Garden Center declared a National Historic Site by the State of Florida and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places
1984
25th Anniversary of becoming incorporated - the center named West Martello/Joe Allen Garden Center, Home of the Key West Garden Club

Key West the only southern city in Federal government

1845
Florida became a state. Construction of Fort Taylor began. Sites for Towers selected but no work for 16 years. Ownership complicated
1861
Civil War - Fort Taylor occupied by Federal troops. Key West the home port of the eastern gulf blockading fleet - about 40 Naval vessels. 45 Confederate runners bought to Key West harbor. Key West the only southern city in Federal government. Most citizens Confederate sympathizers
1863
Work on the towers began. Many hazards. West Martello citadel completed. Two Martello Towers linked to Fort Taylor by a railroad. Work went on feverishly for four years, then sporadically for eight years then stopped

West Martello becomes quarry for Townspeople

1864
West Martello cistern, lower floor and stairway completed and advanced battery up to about 20. West lower tier of casemates finished. East Martello about the same
1866
Fort Taylor finished - 21 years after it was begun
1873
Work on Towers ceased. Never armed. West Martello becomes quarry for Townspeople and target for Fort Taylor gunners
1878
Modernization of defences. Two small guns installed on ocean face of the tower casemates. Work filled in all of the casemates and sets of concrete steps leading up to the base of the gun mounts constructed

Spanish American War - Tower used for quartering troops

1898
Spanish American War - Tower used for quartering troops, storage, signaling and lookout
1914-44
Used for radio stations, and an anti-aircraft battery on the beach. End of war, removal of guns and demolition of temporary buildings. Departure of troops
1947
Release of all Army properties in Key West. Two Towers became property of Monroe County and Fort Taylor of the navy

West Martello Tower Garden Center declared a National Historic Site
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