For nearly 63 years, the Citrus Tower has been one of the most recognizable spots in Lake County, known for its enormous size. In just 40 seconds, visitors are at the top of one of the tallest and unobstructed views in eight counties.
“The Citrus Tower was built as a very large and tall building to highlight the citrus industry in Central Florida,” Scott Homan said.
For this “Love Lake Life” feature, we spoke to the new owners of the Citrus Tower, Scott and Heather Homan. The Homans took over the tower in January 2019 after its purchase from Scott’s dad Greg Homan.
The tower was initially planned to be 75 feet, however, upon completion, the tower stood at 226 feet or the equivalent to a 22-story building. At its highest point—the top of the antenna is measured at 500 feet.
The tower was built in 1955 and opened in 1956 on one of the highest hills in Florida to highlight the state’s booming citrus industry.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, during the time the Citrus Tower was built and opened, there were 522,700 acres of citrus groves in Florida. Those groves produced 69% of the citrus in the United States and 64% of the total acreage for the United States.
Florida citrus produced 134,000,000 boxes of fruit out of a total 195,695,000 boxes in the United States. Homan said that during the first year the tower was open it attracted more than 500,000 visitors.
Homan, a Lake County native, has many memories of Clermont and this iconic structure growing up just 10 minutes from the tower on Sugarloaf Mountain.
“I really appreciate the tower because it been in my family for so long and I grew up with it as a kid, there is definitely some nostalgia there,” Homan said.
One of his favorite memories was a Christmas party that his parents hosted. He dressed up as an elf and served as the elevator attendant bringing people up to the observation deck. Another fond memory, he told us about was seeing the fireworks displays during July 4th, and having nothing compete with the view.
The Homans had the idea to take over the tower from Scott’s father less than a year ago and have made changes since taking ownership earlier this year.
While you may not see many citrus trees on the observation deck of the tower now, Homan said he welcomes the new view.
“What you see today when you go up there it’s different. You see development. We are very excited about the development. We like the idea of more neighbors, and we encourage it,” Homan said. “You go up top today, and you see a lot of green space—you see a lot of trees and a lot of houses. And we like it all.”
The Homans have a two-fold plan for the future of the tower, allow people to continue to enjoy and appreciate the history behind the tower and keep visitors in Lake County exploring all that is has to offer.
“The Citrus Tower appeals to people who are interested in history, and we want to respect that,” Homan said. “We still have the original antique elevator.”
By adding Mountaineer Coffee to the tower, visitors can enjoy iced coffee, lattes and a wide variety of homemade pop tarts. They’ve also added air conditioning and seating for those who want to enjoy the views of Lake County with a coffee.
The Homan’s have more plans for the tower, which include adding a restaurant.
But for those first-time visitors at the tower, the 360-degree view when they step out of the elevator and onto the observation deck is indescribable.
“As soon as the door opens at the top, a lot of the times people are like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ I cannot believe this exists. The view is really amazing, ” Homan said.
The Citrus Tower is the epitome of “Real Florida, Real Close.”
“The Citrus Tower serves as kind of a beacon for people coming into the area. What we have found is when people are coming into Central Florida a lot of times they stop into the Citrus Tower, and we become their tour guide,” Homan said. “So, our objective is we keep them in Lake County. Lake County has some of the coolest businesses that I have ever seen.”
Whether you’re visiting the area or you’re a local, be sure to check out the Citrus Tower! Plan your next visit at https://citrustower.com/ and for more exhilarating spotlights, check out http://www.visitlakefl.com/.
If you haven’t already, check out the Love Lake Life video of the Citrus Tower below!