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The Citrus Tower - STBM - ClerntNow

The Citrus Tower History

The Citrus Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Lake County, Florida. This towering structure has a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. It has played a significant role in the growth and development of the area and has been visited by countless dignitaries, celebrities, and presidents over the years. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the history of the Citrus Tower and its impact on the region.

Citrus Tower Postcard circa 1956 - Clermont clermontnowConstruction of the Citrus Tower began in 1955, and it was completed the following year. The tower was built by the Florida Citrus Tower Corporation, a group of local businessmen who were looking for ways to capitalize on the booming citrus industry in the area. At the time, citrus was one of the major industries in Florida, and Lake County was home to some of the largest citrus groves in the state.

The Citrus Tower was designed as a tourist attraction, offering visitors a panoramic view of the surrounding citrus groves and lakes. Standing at 226 feet tall, the tower was the tallest structure in Florida at the time of its construction. Visitors would ride an elevator to the top of the tower, where they could take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding area.


The tower quickly became a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. It was visited by several presidents, including Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, and celebrities like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Roy Rogers. Even Walt Disney himself visited the tower in 1963, while he was scouting for land to build Walt Disney World.

The Citrus Tower played a crucial role in the growth and development of Lake County. It helped to put the area on the map as a tourist destination, which in turn attracted more businesses and industries to the region. The tower also provided a significant economic boost to the area, as it created jobs and generated revenue for local businesses.

However, the tower faced a major setback in the 1980s when a devastating freeze destroyed much of the citrus industry in the area. Many of the citrus groves that surrounded the tower were destroyed, and the tower’s owners were forced to find new ways to attract visitors. In the years that followed, the tower was renovated and refurbished, and new attractions were added to help draw in more tourists.

Despite the challenges it faced, the Citrus Tower has remained a beloved landmark in Lake County. It has changed hands several times over the years, with different owners bringing their own unique vision to the property. Today, the tower is owned by the Hunt family, who purchased it in 2014. The Hunts have continued to invest in the property, adding new features and amenities to keep it fresh and relevant.

In conclusion, the Citrus Tower is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the people of Lake County. It has weathered many challenges over the years, from devastating freezes to changing tourism trends. But through it all, the tower has remained a beloved symbol of the area’s rich history and natural beauty. Whether you’re a tourist or a local resident, a trip to the Citrus Tower is a must-see experience that offers a glimpse into the past and a vision of the future.


On September 26, 2022, The Citrus Tower and its adjoining commercial buildings were sold by Greg Homan and Family to STBM (Simchat Torah Beit Midrash). Ralph and Maureen Messer lead STBM.

Ralph Messer expressed his pride and humility in becoming the current custodian of The Citrus Tower property, located adjacent to their Clermont Simchat Torah Beit Midrash Hebrew Bible College. He additionally emphasized their intention to enhance the significance of The Citrus Tower as a vital landmark of Clermont, offering top-notch services, organizing exceptional events, featuring live music and entertainment, providing diverse dining options, offering shopping opportunities and historical attractions, and sustaining this legacy for years to come. We have also learned they have made significant changes to one of the areas used previously as a game room to accomdate and be used for a wedding venue. 

According to Ralph Messer, the goal is to become a strong and supportive anchor for the rapidly growing South Lake County community. The mission is to establish a culture of excellence in business leadership and create a positive impact on the surrounding area. The owners plan to work closely with local government officials and community organizations to achieve this goal.

Regarding current and future plans, the Citrus Tower lobby coffee shop has already expanded its menu and added new high-quality coffee makers, espresso machines, and more to be able to meet the demand and provide faster service to its clientele.  They aim to be the best coffee spot in town and an ideal location for casual meetings. They have also just recently renovated a meeting room to better accommodate business conferences, weddings, and more.  Renovations are currently underway at the former location of Kenny’s BBQ for Leo’s Kosher BBQ, which is relocating from its highly successful location at Monstrose Center. The Guavete Puerto Rican cuisine is also open within the lobby of the Citrus Tower. And we cannot forget to mention Happy Trolls Game Store and Rick’s Music are also located on-site. 

To the surprise and celebration of locals, the owners say that the Christmas Tower Light Show will continue as an annually celebrated event, and new parking lot events — food trucks, community events, and entertainment — are also planned. You may have even noticed that for the Easter/Passover holy days, the tower was lit with blue lights to give glory and honor as a gift to the community from STBM.

In conclusion, this is hardly a sad story or one with an end in sight.  The Citrus Tower history you can clearly see is a work in process. One of the first tourist attractions for Florida, and more, we see this story as one that will surely have an ongoing narrative. We will be watching and reporting as new developments arise. 

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