Thursday, October 9, 2008

Some Historic Homes in Key West

One thing we noticed about Key West is that the weather seemed to be very changeable this time of the year. One minute there was a bright blue sky and the next a wind would whip up over the ocean and big thunderhead clouds would appear, and then they would drift off to sea and the sun would come out again! It drizzled one morning, and because of that we decided to rent an electric car for a few hours to tour the island.

My husband said it was like driving a deluxe golf cart! Max speed was 45 miles an hour, so it was a perfect vehicle to do some house sight seeing.

In the photo below you'll see the oldest house in Key West, located at 322 Duval St. It was built about 1829 and incorporates the influences of colonial architecture found in the Caribbean and New England. For decades, it was the home of Capt. Francis Watlington, his wife, and nine daughters. Watlington was a Customs Inspector, Lightship Captain, harbor pilot, and “wrecker” – one of the Key West salvagers who raced to ships run aground on the reefs, rescued their crew, and benefited from the cargo aboard. At one time Key West was one of the wealthiest cities in the nation due to the treasure natives recovered from ship wrecks! This house is now a museum. Houses in the old town, such as this, have survived over a hundred years of hurricanes due to their sturdy construction, which used tongue and groove construction and hard woods.

The home below is now the The Wild Side Gallery, located at 1108 Duval Street. I loved the unusual facade and pointed roof. The gallery features jewelry, pottery, wood art, paintings, batiks, glass, and more.

A row of bungalow type houses along a side street. Notice the antique looking street lights!

Next, we see the entrance to author Ernest Hemingway's House and Museum, which is located at 907 Whitehead Street. Hemingway owned the home from 1931 until his passing in 1961. The Spanish Colonial style home was constructed of native rock recovered from the grounds, and boasts the first pool built in Key West.
It is said that many of the characters Hemingway met in Key West from the well to do, to the down-on-their-luck fishermen and wreckers became the characters in his novel "To Have and Have Not" which is about Key West during the depression, as well as protagonists in his succeeding works.

Hemingway disliked tourists peering into his property and had a tall brick fence constructed all around it for privacy. One of the unusual features of Hemingway's house and lush gardens are the descendants of his cats. The story goes that Hemingway made the acquaintance of a sea captain who owned an unusual six-toed tomcat. Upon his departure from Key West, the captain presented the cat to Hemingway. Today many of the numerous cats that inhabit the grounds still possess the unusual six toes.

Here are a couple of web cams on the property --maybe you can spy some of the 60+ kitties on the cat cam!

The Key West Lighthouse Museum and Keepers Quarters Museum built in 1847 to aid to ships navigating dangerous reefs off the lower Keys. You can watch a short video about it here.

Click on the next photo to read all about President Truman's "Little Whitehouse" in Key West which is now a museum.

The house is located on the Truman Annex, 111 Front Street, and was originally built in 1890 as the first officer's quarters on the naval station. The wooden duplex contained Quarters A for the base commandant and Quarters B for the paymaster. The house has been host to many distinguished guests. Thomas Edison resided in the house during World War I, while working on depth charge research for the U.S. Navy.
In 1946, Harry Truman began visiting Key West for rest and relaxation and returned for 175 days during his presidency. Quarters A was the Winter White House.
President Dwight Eisenhower used the home while recuperating from a heart attack in 1956. In 1961, the Little White House played host to President John F. Kennedy and British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan during the Bay of Pigs incident.

Next is the Cosgrove House, a classical revival house at 321 Whitehead Street. Click on photo to read about it's history.

It is now one of the six houses that comprise the The Banyan Resort

Below is The Southern Most House, built in 1896 by Judge Vining Harris. In 1939 the Ramos family purchased the property which had been converted into a Cuban nightclub called Cafe Cayo Hueso. In 1954 it was converted back into a private house until 1996, when it was converted into a 14 room hotel.

It is from this area that I took the dramatic sky photo in the beginning of my blog, as the house sits right on the ocean front.

The beautiful old home below located at 429 Caroline, at the corner of Duval Street, was once the birthplace of Dr. Joseph Yates Porter, III, Key West's first native-born physician. House combines Bahamian, New England, and French architectural elements.

The Audubon House Museum & Tropical Gardens pictured below was established in 1960 by Key West native, Colonel Mitchell Wolfson, and his wife Frances. They restored the elegant three level Captain's home, which was built in the American Classic Revival architectural style of the mid 1800's.The home was originally built by Captain John Huling Geiger, who was Key West's first harbor pilot. Captain Geiger raised many children in the house, and planted beautiful tropical vegetation on the property. It was the beautiful plants which drew Audubon to it during his visit in 1832. Audubon took cuttings from the plants growing on the property, and used them as backgrounds in many works.

There were many, many more historical and fascinating homes on Key West, and I hope you enjoyed the ones I've shown.

Some examples of beautiful private homes can be seen in the next three photos.

After touring the neighbourhoods of Key West we walked over to Mallory Square to enjoy the nightly Sunset Celebration.

The Disney Cruise ship was in port that day as you can see in the photo below.

There were many vendors in the square...
....and many street performers.
We happened to sit near this acrobat and tightrope walker and enjoyed his show.

We watched the many sunset cruise vessels sailing by in the bay and decided that we were going to take one too before we left Key West ... a future blog post will show you that thrilling voyage!

The sunset each night was different, and this one was golden.

The colors in the sky were spectacular!

It really was a celebration and a delight to enjoy!

Here is a nice YOUTUBE video about the sunset celebration

Next blog I will be participating in Beverly's blog's How Sweet The Sound "Pink Saturday," and will show you all the pink I found in Key West!


Poetikat said...

Did you get to Hemingway's house? I was there in 1976 and was delighted to find it over-run with cats.


Rhonda said...

What great shots of Key West! Love the Audubon House and the sunsets are gorgeous!!!!! Did you take the walking ghost tour? We took it and it was a blast. Your music is so appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Lovely, lovely photos. Looks like a wonderful place.


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Sixty cats!! Edward would not have found that pleasing, I'm afraid!!

So many pretty houses. And that amazing sky. Looks like a perfect anniversary destination to me.

Judy said...

What wonderful pictures. Thank you so much for taking us with you. I loved all the houses, they are so beautiful. The sunsets were perfect!! I am anxious to see more of your trip. I'm so happy you had such a wonderful time.

Thank you so much for your sweet comment and caring.

nanatrish said...

Your ocean picture with the boats is so beautiful! It looks like you had such a wonderful trip. Don't you love the atmosphere there? Laid back and mellow. Isn't the conch salad yummy? I'm glad you had so much fun.

lisa said...

key west looks spectacular with those amazing sunsets...i hope i get to go someday!

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

I feel like I was back there with you! I love that you are walking and seeing so many of the same places I did. My favorite house in your pictures is the one with the lavender shutters...

steviewren said...

Oh My Gosh, those sunsets! How romantic to be with the one you love and get to watch a sunset like that every night!

Hemingway's house looked fascinating. Did you go inside of any of these homes?

Strider said...

I've seen that picture of the two story corner building before. Very nice pics.

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!
Great post! I love all those homes, they're so quaint. Your photos of the ocean & sky are so wonderful.
Have a good weekend!!
Hugs, Sherry

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Judy said...

Beautiful pic's...thanks for taking us along on your tour!

Tracy said...

Hi, Pat! Welcome home! So glad you had a great shows in the photos! I've been to several places in FL, but never to Key West. It looks a wonderful place...Loved seeing all the historic places...And look at that wide sky and sea...aaahhh...And that deluxe golf cart looks fun--no wonder your hubby had fun with that...boys and their toys ;o) Have a happy weekend settling in home again! ((BIG HUGS))

Elizabeth said...

This looks so beautiful - particularly the old houses and the amazing skies.
So glad you had a wonderful trip.

Hooked on Houses said...

Ooh, Key West! I'd love to go there sometime. Taking your tour was the next-best thing. Great photos!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend. -Julia :-)

Rue said...

Hi Pat :)

Happy (belated) Anniversary!!!!

Thank you for sharing your trip with us. I've always wanted to go to Key West and even more so now. The houses and the sunset were incredible!!


Lavinia said...

Heavens, Pat, I need an atlas and a compass to keep up with you! LOL...

Are you sure you are a person and not a travel agency? Wow, these images are spectacular. Absolutely have a keen eye for composition.

I think you should rename your blog: Milli Traveli Favoriti !

Donna said...

Fabulous Key West pictures! Oh my gosh, they bring back memories of when my daughter lived there and my husband and I were on a cruise ship that docked for the day, and we stopped and enjoyed the sites! She worked at the Hogs Breath at the time.

Thanks for posting such wonderful photos. It's such a great place and it looks like you had an awesome time!


jeanne said...

Pat, it seems like an age since I visited you and I have missed you. My life has been kind of crazy as I try to recover from surgery on my knee and then my mouth.. I have missed commenting to many of my blogger friends.

Your Key West photos are wonderful and very familiar to me. My cousin lived there for years and we spent many weekends there when we lived in So. Fl. A beautiful and interesting place. I have seen many sunsets and have had many good times there, as well as visited places of interest. I am happy you enjoyed your visit so much.

Love, Jeanne

heidi said...

wish I was there RIGHT now. Eating conch soup & key lime pie. Beautiful pics!

Kathy said...

We have been to Key West and I loved the old homes and all the flowers, plants, trees, etc. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing and reminding me of those homes.

Cori G. said...

Hi Pat,
That Audubon house, I could live there easily. Look, you have some pictures that would be perfect for Pink Saturday!
XO Cori

Mod Girl said...

Hi Pat, Beautiful sky photos, such dramatic clouds.

Thank you for you NYC skyline postcard... lovely. I dream of visiting there sometime (soon!).

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Pat, Beautiful homes there, and I love that cart/car you and your hubby drove around in. How fun! I must say I still have visions of those beautiful homes in Brooklyn too, Hugs!!!

Kitem said...

Your sunset pictures are beuatiful. My favorite house is the one at 49 Caroline, I loce its colonial style. Visiting America with you is always a great pleasure.

Anonymous said...

Oh Pat what a marvellous place! Thank you so much for sharing and taking me with you. I may have to add a few more "Dear Santas" to my list. Oh just to be able to open the bedroom glass doors onto a wrap-around balcony with ornately shaped iron or wood work, or to sit in a rocking chair on a porch with some sewing or knitting on my lap. What bliss. The sunsets are breathtaking too.

Joanne Kennedy said...

Oh you have made me want to go back to Key West and stay there for several days. I fell in love with it and the few hours I had to spend there wasn't near enough.

I found everyone so friendly. Were they still? Now I want some Key Lime pie.


Gina said...

Another wonderful tour much to see..what a great place to visit..really love the museum set in the gardens..gorgeous!..and I can't get over how much pink you took in!
Hope you're having a lovely weekend Gx

Lisa B. said...

Love all that great architecture! And your hubby in that cute little electric car!!

Mrs. B said...

Wow! Each sunset really is different... beautiful! I love the historic homes. The little bungalow are just adorable.