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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Grand Dame - 1307 Truman Avenue Key West

This is how the listing Realtor describes The Grand Dame at 1307 Truman Avenue: "This beautifully renovated Victorian home was built by a Cigar factory owner from Cuba in the early 1900's. The home was expertly renovated in 2002 to restore the original elegance while adding all the modern amenities. Spanning two lots from Truman Ave. to Albury St, where the pool is surrounded by a lush indigenous tropical garden . There is over 4000 sqft of living space plus 1500 sf of porches. Bedrooms are spacious with 12 ft ceilings. In addition separate guest quarters on second level with a private porch. Original Dade County pine floors are preserved as well as crown molding. Each floor has its own CA/C zone. Kitchen including soap stone counters and a large white marble island tops."

I know a Grand Dame when I see one, but I thought I best go to my Wikipedia just to make sure my context about 1307 Truman is correct. Wikipedia describes a Grand Dame thus: "In popular culture, the grande dame is usually portrayed as a slightly flamboyant woman, prone to extravagant and eccentric fashion, such as feather boas, large hats, and excessive costume jewelry. She may be overly pre-occupied with the concept of "acting ladylike" and expect all those around her to conform to her own high standards of etiquette." That definition fits 1307 Truman Avenue to a tee. The house has a prominence that cannot be denied. The wrap around verandas are her boa; the height is her large hat; and the impeccable gardens are her costume jewelry.

This house on millionaires row was built circa 1900. From Eisenhower Drive on the east all the way west to Duval only a few of the old dames on Truman survive today. They were built in sizes and to standards (and lifestyles) that are no longer current. Many of the houses that do remain have been converted into guest houses or re-configured into a combination of commercial and/or retail with some residential. This house has not been messed around with and sits almost like a virgin, albeit an old virgin.

This house is in beautiful condition. Everything I saw looked great, clean, and well maintained. I did not see any deferred maintenance. The baths are nicely appointed with new fixtures with classic lines. They fit the style without being gimmicky. There are two large formal living areas on the main floor. The kitchen sits at the rear. The kitchen is huge and would make a great gathering place for modern living in an old house. The wrap around verandas at the front and rear seem to envelop the house. Each of the rooms on all three levels of the house (including the third floor) have very tall ceilings, crown molding, and exude a sense of formality we don't see in current architecture. For readers who have been in dozens of Key West Conch houses, this isn't one. You have not been in a house like this before in Key West.

The house has five bedrooms, each of which is quite large. And most have en-suite baths. The third floor has a sitting room off the bedroom. The ceiling up there must be 15 feet tall. There is a small porch off the front of the third floor where you can see the treetops and rooftops of much of the southern end of the island. Bayview Park is just across the street. What a view! There is a rooftop deck at the rear with an amazing view of the north. I could see water on the Gulfside. You could not build a house of this height in Key West today. But if you buy it, you have the view forever. CLICK HERE for more details and photos of this one of a kind properties.

This house is listed by Preferred Properties Christie's Great Estates at the asking price of $1,998,000 or $451 per sq ft. The house has 4426 sq ft of living space under roof and sits on a large 7418 sq ft lot. The rear veranda overlooks the garden and pool area. Off street parking is provided as well. There is even a small apartment off to the west side of the house which could be used by a caretaker for an owner who would use the house as a second home.

But I have an alternate use suggestion. I think this house would make a one of a kind guest house with grand rooms and a sense of elegance missing from other guest houses in Key West. Zoning is HMDR which may permit such a usage. But a buyer will have to move heaven and earth to get the property converted to such a use.

Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of 1307 Truman Avenue. Buyers looking for a big house ought to take a look and compare the size and features to other similarly priced homes. The Grand Dame of Truman Avenue will put them all in their place.

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.