I have driven by West Martello Tower literally hundreds of times, but until this past weekend I had never been inside.
Years ago this old Civil War Fort was hardly ever opened and so the timing just never panned out for me. And more recently since the Key West Garden Club took over the property and they are open for regular hours (7 days a week from 9:30 am to 5 pm), I have not been able to visit because I have always had Indiana Bones with me and unfortunately dogs are not welcome inside, even if it is directly across the street from the Dog Park.
The West Martello Tower which is located on White Street at the Atlantic Ocean, just steps away from Higg’s Beach, is not only a Civil War fort, it is a National Historic Site, home to the Key West Garden Club, and to the Joe Allen Garden Center. The fort was built in 1862, but like the other forts on the island, it was never involved in battle, but the Navy did use it for occasional target practice for a time.
Today, the fort is home to many native and exotic plant life, most of which are labeled. The natural beauty of the plant life as well
as of the blue-green waters of the Atlantic Ocean which can be seen from several areas of the fort is a stark contrast to the brick structure’s crumbling vaulted ceilings and gun mounts. It is both wild and tame, a structure abused by the elements inhabited by beauteous orchids, trees, and bromeliads.
While walking through this maze of a fort you will find a gazebo overlooking the sea, a perfect spot for a wedding. A waterfall, lily ponds, fountains, and other interesting points. And at the entrance you will see paintings and pictures of flora as well as letters that date back many years ago corresponding from the White House to the facility.
There are benches placed throughout the grounds where you can sit and relax and take in some of the beauty here.
You will also meet several volunteers that take care of the grounds. They are all very friendly and happy to answer any questions that you may have about the fort or the plant life.
West Martello is one of the few free historical places to visit on the island, although donations are kindly accepted.
To see what is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.
Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or any of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog.
Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!
Island Genn – Your Key West Concierge