Last weekend, I saw a photograph on social media that made me angry.
So, I reposted it – helping fuel something of a tempest in a teapot in the process.
Five days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, some fifteen area residents became members of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary – Flotilla 44 – and guarded our coastline from the threat of German submarines and coastal infiltrators from the wooden watch tower at Ormond-by-the-Sea.
Armed only with a pair of binoculars, these intrepid citizens stood their post for the duration of the war.
In the early 1950’s – when Ormond-by-the-Sea was a much different place than it is today – locals used the tower to post gaudy real estate signs and, in a 1955 article in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, it was described as “…the biggest eyesore in three counties.”
After public outcry, those signs came down – and there was talk of removing the tower altogether to prevent it “interfering with or detracting from the ocean.”
Fortunately, the signs went and the tower stayed.
The watch tower was refurbished around 2007, and a plaque was placed at its base explaining the structures significance to the local wartime effort.
Relatively recently, mega-developer Mori Hosseini’s ICI Homes developed the Verona subdivision on the west side of A-1-A, immediately adjacent to the tower – replacing what had been an old filling station and mobile home park.
Inexplicably, some jackleg in the ICI Homes marketing department thought it would be appropriate to repeat history and affix hideous advertising signage to the north and south facing sides of this historic structure – complete with a large arrow pointing toward the subdivision.
My initial reaction was one of shock – this time-honored part of our local heritage being used as a cheap billboard struck me as a slap-in-the-face to those brave men and women who stood watch there during World War II – and a horrific example of how little some developers care about protecting and preserving that which is important to local residents.
I understand that a number of area residents placed calls to ICI Homes and local media outlets to express their concerns – taking a personal stake in preserving our quality of life and the scenic view on one of the last unspoiled sections of A-1-A.
Then, one of my personal heroes – the intrepid WESH-TV reporter Claire Metz got to the bottom of it – as did the incredible investigative reporter Mike Springer from WFTV Channel 9.
According to Claire, upon contacting ICI Homes, she learned that the advertising had been erected on the watch tower without the knowledge of ICI Home’s senior management – and representatives for the developer advised it would be removed immediately – with apologies to local residents who were rightfully offended by the defacement.
According to a release from ICI Homes:
“In light of the concerns raised from local residents over the few days, we have decided to take down the signs that were recently installed on the Watchtower across from our Verona Oceanside subdivision on A1A. The signs were modeled after historical photographs depicting signage on the tower.
ICI Homes wants to be a good neighbor and acted promptly once we realized the impact it was having on area residents.”
Now, that part about the signs being “modeled after historical photographs depicting signage on the tower” is complete horseshit – but I appreciate the sentiment – and the quick removal of the offensive billboards.
Frankly, Mr. Hosseini didn’t have to do anything – other than obtain a sign permit.
According to reports, when ICI Homes purchased the property, it included the watch tower – along with the traditional parking area at its base that was recently fenced off to public use by our friends at Volusia County.
Last night I had the pleasure of speaking with Clayton Park, business editor for The Daytona Beach News-Journal, who is doing a piece on the “Great Northshore Sign Debate of 2020.”
Through Mr. Park, I expressed my appreciation to Mori Hosseini for listening to the concerns of area residents and restoring this important piece of our local landscape to its pristine – if not slightly weathered – condition.
That truly is being a good neighbor.
Thanks to everyone who let their voices be heard.
In my view, this is the essence of civic involvement.
And kudos to ICI Homes for taking positive steps to correct a mistake that caused such a visceral reaction with Ormond-by-the-Sea residents who care deeply about preserving those historic, cultural, and environmental sites and amenities that make our area so unique.
7 thoughts on “Good News on the Northshore”
Kudos to you Mark for bringing this to light! Although i keep my travels to a minimum, when ever I passed the tower, i knew instantly it’s purpose, albeit, not the local details regarding who manned it. To the nitwits who felt an advertising opportunity, most likely a sign of the uneducated public that is becoming the new normal, after all, history to them needs to be erased since it is not being taught, sad.
My name is Warren Shaw, my father was Wayne Shaw and he owned the property where the tower stands and the property where Verona is building their community. When he purchased the property in 1946 the Army Corp. came through to dismantle the tower due to worries of liability and my dad managed to stop them by taking the liability himself. He realized the iconic value of having a landmark to highlight his business which was a Texaco station and travel trailer park which was named Ocean Village Texaco and Trailer Park. We sold the entire property and business in 1978. I am writing to you to say I think my dad deserves to be mentioned and remembered when it comes to any musings about the tower. It would not be here if dad had not stepped in when he did. I know he wanted to keep it for personal gain but he succeeded in it’s preservation regardless. I always laugh at the 1955 article about it being an eyesore with the ads placed on it, my family was never wealthy and I remember my dad being very unhappy about losing the advertising income when he spoke of it. At least they let him have the name of the park on it at some point. In closing I just wanted my dad to be remembered for saving it, we kept it up over the years and as in all family businesses myself and my brother and 4 sisters all had a hand in it’s upkeep. Thank you for the attention and your time.
I as one did email ICI Homes left a message as to this w Watchtower. They didn’t response but I am sure they read it. We had our 35 year vows done there and our daughter was married there also . But I know it might not mean nothing to some but everything to us . I have taken all our family and friends there for a beautiful view and show them a historic sight that means something to see and learn. I hope it will stay there and they take care of it. We do need parking so is there a way for that ? Who knows what can be done since they own it . But as long as I can see it I have pictures and memories and that they can’t buy .
But if Chief didn’t stir the pot, the ugly arrows would still be clinging on the tower. Putting it in the public works. Good work señor
So county money was spent to keep the riff-raff off *private* property (the parking area)? 🤔 Seems like there’s a story there, too.
It’s kind of a shame that some agile prankster didn’t swap the signs.
Was the property formerly a trailer park or an RV park? Or some combination thereof?
So, have you seen Deb Denys latest campaign mailing painting Brower as a Trump puppet? Unbelievable! So much for a nonpartisan office seat. She must be really worried about loosing her seat to stoop that low. Given the demographics of volusia county with regards to Trump supporters her mailer might just act to support Jeff Brower.
Sure will be glad when this election is over! I still need to give you a call to discuss the VGMC and its neutering per the County Charter Review Commission that was headed up by your favorite local insurance tycoon. Interesting Volusia politics during my 10 years on the VGMC.
Talk soon, Roger
How much money did Hosseini and his 10 corporations from the same address give Deny.?