I have always been a mystery fan. I loved to watch Perry Mason outwit Hamilton Burger, the District Attorney who was an ineffective prosecutor, and Lt. Tragg, the defective police detective.
Jessica Fletcher had the same knack for outsmarting the tricksters that portrayed themselves as altar boys only to be unmasked as murders in the final minutes of each episode.
My favorite was Lt. Columbo. If you saw Lt. Columbo walk into a room you might dismiss him because he always wore that shabby trench coat. He had a distrust of the wealthy. Lie as they might and have all kinds of excuses corroborated by their wealthy friends, the rich were no match for the Lieutenant who always had to ask "Just one more thing..." It was at that moment we at home knew that Columbo had figured out how the the rich sonofabitch with a concocted alibi had committed the near perfect crime. We relished in the fact that the bad guy would not get away with his evil deed.
A couple of months ago I noticed scaffolding had been erected around a genuine Key West landmark house - the Indian block house located at 936 United Street (corner of Grinnell and United Streets). The property is subject to the HARC (Historic Architectural Review Guidelines) adopted by the City of Key West. CLICK HERE to read the guidelines. You can even download and print a copy for your records.
I have an out of state buyer who has been looking for a fixer-upper. We found one house that has a massive two tier porch somewhat like the one at 936 United Street. I started taking periodic photos of the renovation that I thought was going to occur. The first photos I took showed the original columns, railings, and spindles that had fallen into grave disrepair. Sometimes wood is salvageable. But so many elements of the porch were in such bad repair, I assumed the entire porch would have to be replaced. I thought it would be great to chronicle the old features as they were replicated. It would have. That's not what happened. You can view all of the photos if you CLICK HERE. (The most recent photos appear at the front and proceed backward.)
A couple of weeks ago I went by the house to take some pics to update the progress. I noticed that new columns had been installed. Except they were not the same as the originals which were turned or rounded. The new columns were 6" x 6" squared. That did not make sense to me. I know HARC is a stickler for compliance to the guidelines. It is my understanding that HARC provides a written description of what is to be done with each property. Substitutions and changes need to be approved by HARC. I sent an email with photos attached to a HARC commissioner who forwarded the photos to the HARC official at city hall. I was told that HARC had approved a plan where the original columns would be replaced by new turned columns. I was relieved. (See below.)
At the end of last week I went by the house to take more new photos and noticed that the three surviving original turned columns had been removed and were replaced by new squared columns. I contacted the HARC official at city hall who responded:
'The HARC members approved a final version of a turned wood column that will replicate the original ones, but the smallest profiles of the round column will be slightly larger than the original ones due to actual building code. The building department requested the contractor to secure the two story balconies due to hurricane and school season. The columns that are installed are not final columns.
HARC approved turned wood columns and we are waiting for final shop drawings from the supplier who will be fabricating the columns. We want to make sure that the final columns are as close as possible as the original ones.'
The photo below is what 936 United Street used to look like in June 2010 when it had turned columns and delicate little spindles that decorated the graceful curved porch. The curves of the Indian block, the porch, the columns, the spindles all worked together to create a beautiful Key West landmark house.
CLICK HERE to see that actual HARC application and "approval" for the work at 936 United Street. You can download and print it for easier viewing. Take the time to take a look. If you are in Key West you might want to drive by 936 United Street to see for yourself.
Just one more thing, if you have any thoughts or comments about what is going on at 936 United Street in Key West post them below.