If you look at the structure located at 1 Anderson Street, Seal Beach, California, you can see nothing but an ordinary water tower. But after a closer inspection you’ll realize it’s not filled with water, but common household items. It was several years ago, when the 100-year-old 9-storeys-tall water tower with a capacity of 75,000 gallons had outlived its purpose and was going to be torn down that a few local architects began taking interest in the structure. The tower was originally used to service steam engines traveling on the California coast. After the trains stopped running, the water tower was rendered useless. It was in danger of being demolished in the 1980s, when the architects stepped in, got permits and converted the tower into a beautiful home.
The process of converting a century-old structure into a home was no easy feat. First, the original water tank had to be removed and placed in a parking lot. After 18 months of renovation, a skilled team of engineers worked together to lift it up and put it back in its original place. A commercial elevator and two jacuzzis were added as the final touches to the 3000 sq ft. house. One of the jacuzzi tubs is actually on the upper deck and provides a view of the ocean. Almost every window in the house is fitted with stained glass. There are also two master bedrooms, a maid’s quarters, and four bathrooms. One of the bathrooms has rotating walls, so you could enter in the bedroom and come out from the hallway. The entertainment room has a 360 degree view, a built-in movie theatre, electric blinds and an indoor fire pit. From one direction you get to see the Pacific Ocean and the Catalina Island, and from another you get a view of the Newport Beach, Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro and San Bernardino Mountains. On a clear day, you can even get a glimpse of Los Angeles.
Photo: Walter C
Jerry Wallace, the current owner of the water tower home, is a real estate trader and former fire chief. He bought the house for $800,000 in 1995 and calls it the ‘ultimate beach house’. “You have a house that’s actually fun to live in and I think the entertainment value of living in a fun house is worth it,” he says. There are a few disadvantages of living in the water house though, for all the luxuries it provides. One, the climb up to the tower is pretty long and you have no choice on days when you aren’t feeling up to it and the elevator is broken. Bringing in new furniture all the way up is a pain as well. But Wallace isn’t complaining, especially because he gets to use his favorite room – the entertainment room – as much as he wants to. “I plan on staying here as long as it’s fun to,” he says.
Photo: John VanderHaagen
UPDATE: It seems the water tower house isn’t fun enough for Jerry anymore, as it shows up as available for rent, for $4,000 a week.