A Rather Unusual Water Tower

The city of Coral Gables Florida, USA is a planned community dating from the 1920's. Spanish-Moorish has always been the architectural theme. Today, Coral Gables is an upscale and politically independent part of the City of Miami.

Until the water supply was modernized in the 50's, water pressure was provided by a water tower located in what was then an isolated area. That area has now become residential and the tower stands in a small park. From the start, the watertower was disguised as a "moorish lighthouse" - with a sundial on its south face. It is an interesting, almost fantastic building.

After water began to be pumped from wells in the Everglades in the 50's the lighthouse fell into disrepair. It has now been restored (with no help from hurricane Andrew). The sundial is about four feet in diameter and about 50 feet above the ground. It probably declines about 1.5 degrees east of south along with the rest of the Miami street grid system, and reclines about 2 or 3 degrees with the flat wall of the lighthouse.

Alhambra Water Tower

When the building was restored they had no technical assistance for the sundial. Currently, the numerals and the angle of the copper gnomon bear no relation to reality, and the gnomon itself has been twisted way out of the proper alignment. Restoration (actually just repair) would involve re-aligning the gnomon and repainting the numerals in the proper position.

Bad News and Good News! Late in 1997, a portion of the plaster face of the tower fell off - including the sundial (see the photograph). I have been in contact with the powers that be in Coral Gables, and I will be supervising the accurate restoration of the dial. Preliminary examination of photographs taken in 1924 indicate that the dial was correctly laid out when new.


Stay tuned.
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