EBRO – A piece of Washington County history was dismantled Thursday with the deconstruction of the Moody firewatch tower.
Located just north of Ebro on Highway 79, the tower has been a part of the landscape since the 1960s. By the 1990s, the utilization of fire watch towers had sharply declined, resulting in a slow dismantling of the structures over the years, and ultimately, the 2005 decision by then Governor Jeb Bush to decommission the state’s remaining 35 operational towers.
Moody Tower and its caretaker cottage has since fallen into disrepair, yet has remained, standing sentinel over its portion of Washington County, withstanding numerous tropical storms and hurricanes, including Hurricane Michael.
Mike Vilegi, owner of Excelsior Fire Towers, recently purchased the tower and says its legacy will live on, repurposed for use elsewhere.
The tower’s top 60 feet, including the cab, is headed down to Dade City, Florida, where it will be used as a stargazing tower. The lower 40 feet is set to go to either Tennessee or New Hampshire to be used as a wraparound deck for a house being built into a mountain.
Vilegi and a crew of two men – Kevin Carter and Jesse Rogers – traveled to Ebro from New York on Tuesday to bring the tower down. Deconstruction of the tower took roughly six hours from start to finish with the help of a crane.
As of 2019, approximately 100 towers remained standing in the state.