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Monday, July 19, 2010

The House that Would Not Die

I remember driving home from work one late afternoon several years ago and saw what I thought was impossible: a house razing in Key West. Checkout the photo just below and you can see the house that used to sit at 1424 White Street in the Casa Marina area. As you may be aware you can't tear down old houses in the Old Town and in some parts of Casa Marina or the Meadows. Houses that have been officially designated as historically significant by the Historic Architectural Review Commission must undergo rigorous approval process before the structures can be altered. And only a few houses meet the criteria that would permit demolition.
1424 White Street as it appeared in 1965

1424 White Street as it appears in July 2010

Now look at the photo immediately above. Notice the striking similarity between the two and yet detect the differences. The obvious changes are the longer existent exterior stairway, the removal of the second floor porch "addition", and what appears to be replacement siding. Otherwise the porches and everything else looks pretty much the same. Or so it seems.

In the days that followed I watched the roof of the old house get hoisted into the air. Then piece by piece the old house was torn down. Room by room and stick by stick the house came tumbling down. Then bobcats moved in and tore up the earth under the old house. The site was clean except for the roof suspended in air. A new crew moved in and drilled holes in the earth for new piers. The crews began building the frame for a new house in the space under the roof. Weeks and months went by and finally the roof was lowered onto the new shell. Siding was attached and the exterior was painted. The old relic porch stoop was restored and given new life but the historic bases were kept intact and intentionally not repaired look. It is that old look that tricks the eye and makes one think the house itself is a relic when in fact it was "new" in 2003. Jessica Fletcher would have been proud of me.

This is how the listing Realtor (and owner) of this property describes 1424 White Street:
" Wonderful 2 Story Double Porch Classic. Originally built across town on Caroline Street. Around 1908 it was cut in half and pulled by mules to it's present location. Restored to nearly new in 2003, stone column porch supports and part of roof structure are original and were purposely not replaced in order to retain the the historic quality and character of the house. High End Custom Home Built by Local Award Winning Builder. Chefs Kitchen has gas cook top, oven, wine refrigerator, top of the line stainless appliances. Amazing Two Room Master Suite. Mature Jungle Like Gardens Surround the Heated Pool. The Property is Gated and Fenced. Long term luxury rental."

CLICK HERE to review the mls information package and to view photos of this home.

Checkout the old fashioned doorbell and the custom door

The House That Would Not Die - 1424 White Street - Key West

The inside of this house is all about family and entertaining. The ceilings on both floors are high. The great room at the back of the first floor has a large family kitchen that opens onto the living space. French doors then open onto the back and rear side of the house. I mention this because so many homes are almost claustrophobic. This home is the opposite. Big spaces make for big living. Go back and look at the interior photos of the kitchen and great room. And while you are at it note the wood walls. Everything in this house looks "old" but it is new made to look old. The gentleness of the stairway and the second floor landing are so graceful. The master bedroom is located at the rear of the second floor. It's another good sized room with rear deck overlooking the backyard.

This 2392 sq ft home is located at the corner of White and Von Phister Streets in the Casa Marina area. It is offered for sale at $1,199,000 or $501 per sq ft. This home was built by one of the top residential builders in Key West for his family's personal residence. You can see the attention to detail on the outside and on the inside.

I live one block away and I love this area because it is close to everything. The White Street Pier and Rest Beach are a short four minute walk away. (That's where they shoot off fireworks at least twice each year.) Faustos Market is a few blocks to the north. They have a great little meat counter with in house butcher. The Dairy Queen and numerous small restaurants are in that area as well.

If you a looking for a special place in Key West let me show you 1424 White Street. Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West. Let me show you the house that would not die.


Anonymous said...

The Captain says:

Looks very similar to 1525 Flagler which also was moved from an Old Town location and sold last year for a fraction of this price. House is nice but price still high for location (White Street).

Captain out.................

Gary Thomas said...

Captain, I know 1525 Flagler quite well. It was bank owned and not maintained at all. I was showing it to potential buyers when I slipped on the moss ridden deck and hit my head.

White Street was factored into the way this house was built. You don't hear it on the inside. As for price, the house across the street is offered at $2,995,000 and the house on the corner of Flagler and White (1500 White) sold 3-15-2010 for $2,250,000.

Ya gotta see the inside of this house and not judge this book by it's cover.


Anonymous said...

1500 White commanded such a big price because it's on an enormous lot.

The house at 1424 does look beautiful--but it's SO close to the street.

I'd compare it to the one at 1125 Von Phister. The V-P house appears to offer as much space, comparable amenities and quality, and is in a much nicer, quieter location nearby. It's only $100k more.

I think 1424 White would be priced to sell in the low-to-mid $900s.

Gary Thomas said...

Anon, Maybe I'll write about Von Phister again today. The two houses are maybe 150 feet apart. And White Street does scare some buyers. I get that.

But a sophisticate buyer that looks at 1424 White will see so much real dollar value in this house. It was built to be a keeper by the builder. It was not supposed to be put on the market to sell. Well over a year ago I wrote a blog about price (cost) versus value. Too many people are getting all caught up on price per sq ft when doing comparisons.

Price the cost per sq ft on 1424 White with any top end house in Old Town or Casa Marina. This house would have to be at or very close to the bottom on a price per sq ft basis. But the finishes, amenities, and quality of construction would be at the top of any house in the same areas.

The one feature I did not discuss was the pool and backyard. The pool is a little small and the back yard has lots of trees. The owners designed and built this space for what they wanted. Personally (and I know a lot of my buyers) prefer a larger pool and more sunshine. Von Phister has a larger pool and more sunshine. And it certainly has a great street presence (inside as well-the views looking out to the neighboring properties is just great).

By the way the new owners of 1500 White are throwing a whole lot of new money into redoing that already very expensive manse.


Anonymous said...

Most sophisticated buyers (and even many who aren't so sophisticated) know that location, location, location trumps finishes and amenities. 1424 White may be nice, but it's overpriced for that particular spot.

Some sellers need to realize it's not 2006 anymore.

Gary Thomas said...

Anon: This is not my listing.

I likely will not be involved in the sale of this house.

Buyers need to look at houses that meet their needs and decide for themselves whether quality construction and craftsmanship work for them.

I let grown-ups make their own decisions.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, those who think it is still 2006 are not grown-ups. Just children playing at being adults and whining and crying when they don't get the price they want. And they cry all the way to bankruptcy court as well. They had the money to spend freely before but forgot that daddy and mommy are not around to pick up the pieces and lay down the money now that the well is dry. I have seen too many cry babies in Key West these days and it makes for a nice mess around town.

Anonymous said...

This listing appears to have been pulled. I'll be interested to see whether it sold (and for what) or if the sellers pulled the listing.

Anonymous said...

It appears this house has sold.

Gary Thomas said...

The listing expired today.

Anonymous said...

Relisted today at the same price. The owners are optimists, I'll give them that.


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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.