Since everyone knows what a lighthouse is, we’ll focus on a cistern. 🙂 So what’s a cistern? A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns can be above or below ground and were commonly used in Key West to capture and store rain water. Early on this water was used for many purposes including drinking, cooking, irrigation and washing. You have to remember that fresh water (an unending flow) was not available to Key West until after Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway was completed from Miami to Key West way back in 1912.
This particular unique looking brick and cement cistern held approximately 6,000 gallons of rain water collected from the roof’s downspouts. (look closely and you can see it)
You can see this beautiful example of a well preserved cistern for yourself two ways. First – Pay to enter the historic Key West Lighthouse for a self-guided tour. Second – Simply look over the fence for a glance. The lighthouse is located at 938 Whitehead Street across from Ernest Hemingway’s House.