This Sky-High Water Tower Doubles as a Rustic Beach Retreat

In the 1940s, this Huntington Beach water tower – which stands at around 100 feet tall – serviced the local trains that came through town, connecting the inner city to the beach. Today, it’s a 3,500-square-foot high-rise with unmatched views of the Pacific Ocean, downtown Los Angeles and Catalina Island.

The historic and beloved water tower has long been a fixture of the Huntington coastline, but it was nearly torn down in the 1980s – until the local community pulled together and demanded it be saved.

“There was a huge community outcry to keep it,” said Scott Ostlund, the owner of the water tower home. “People were selling quilts and having meetings on ‘Save Our Water Tower.'”

Luckily, the tower was spared, and a local professor decided to turn it into a home in 1986. And in 2017, Ostlund purchased it and did extensive renovations, which were sorely needed.

“There was literally dust dropping from the termites in the ceiling, so it needed a lot of work. We went through and restored it after the buy,” Ostlund said.

A crew of 70 worked round-the-clock for three months to update the features and bring the water tower back to its former glory. The hard work and renovations paid off, and the one-of-a-kind-home will remain a neighborhood institution for years to come. Though the outside of the home still looks like the traditional structure of a water tower, the inside is cozy and rustic with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.

Sprinkled throughout the home are artifacts of its past life of servicing trains, such as the barrels and burlap sacks decorating the first-floor bathroom as a nod to how trains carried cargo back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A tiny train track also hangs on the ceiling of one of the home’s lounge areas, giving the house a feeling of nostalgia and a sense of its history.

Beyond the historic details, the water tower’s living spaces are impressive: A lounge area boasts sweeping, panoramic views of the ocean…

…and the spacious kitchen features fire-engine red cabinets, open shelving, subway tiles and floor-to-ceiling farmhouse paneling.

The sizable bedrooms upstairs have multiple windows that pop open, offering enviable and unobstructed views of the ocean right from the comfort of a bed.

The water tower’s best feature, however, is its wraparound deck that’s perfect for sunset views, catching a good ocean breeze and soaking in the hot tub, which is conveniently located next to a built-in wine fridge and wet bar.

The novelty of a water tower-turned-home isn’t lost on Ostlund, who knows how unique it is to the area as well as the whole country.

“The value in the water tower is the permanence to build a house on the beach 100 feet in the air.  You look out over every other house in Southern California. There is no house that’s this tall in the country,” he said.