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Saturday, June 18, 2011

507 Frances Street - Old Town - Key West

507 Frances Street is located on one of the best blocks in Old Town

You probably have strolled by, rode your bike past, or driven by 507 Frances Street and wondered what it is and then easily continued walking, riding, or driving. It gets noticed because of its atypical architecture, but then it gets ignored because of it. People can't figure out what it is or why it should interest them as a potential home in Key West. I'm here to shed some light on this property and perhaps create a little interest in it.

507 Frances Street (above) in 1965 with suggested changes by me

507 Frances Street intersects with Curry Lane in 2011

I found the Black & White Photo (above) that shows how this property looked back in 1965. Compare that photo with the color photo immediately below. The place has not changed much. You will note that I added some text to the Black and White Photo to suggest possible changes to this house because I think change is exactly what is needed.

The Red Doors on Caroline Street

701 Southard Street Key West - January 2011

302 Angela Street

507 Frances Street is one of six double gable houses in Key West that I am aware of. The others are located in the Meadows area, Petronia Street, and two familiar properties (the Red Doors on Caroline Street and an apartment building at 701 Southard Street), and the Angelina Guest House at 302 Angela Street. If you study 507 Frances and compare it to either the Red Doors or 701 Southard you will immediately see that Frances Street architecture is basically the same. That is, there are two buildings seemingly joined at a common point with the resultant double gable roof. 507 Frances is different, however, since the porches on Frances Street were enclosed sometime in the past - at least pre-1965. (When I first moved to Key West I was told many of the larger old homes had the front porches enclosed during World War II to house military personnel stationed here. That may or may not be true.) But these four properties share another interesting feature: they are all site-situated right at or very near the sidewalk. There is no front yard or fence to set the building off from the sidewalk.

Imagine the front porch enclosures eliminated and the interior ceilings vaulted

Imagine the rear with a pool and French doors up and down with second floor cantilevered deck

This building was built around 1870. The public records show the current building as having 2107 sq ft of living space that is situated on a 38' x 50' lot. The house abuts Curry Lane, one of the slow lanes of Key West.

The listing Realtor describes 507 Frances Street this way:
"This sturdy double gabled building is situated in a very nice area of Old Town Key West. Historically, it is said to have served as one of the early schoolhouses in Town, then later as a church. Presently in use as a 3-unit licensed year round rental producing total annual rent of $48,000, with the tenants paying utilities. The building could convert nicely to a fine single-family residence."
I showed this property in early 2010 but neglected to take any interior photos. The property is presently used as three rental units. The front porches are integral parts of the current usage. I recall the original exterior walls at front are still in place and doorways open onto the porches. An interior stairway provides access to the three units as currently configured. It works fine for the current usage but a new stairway could redefine the usage as a single family residence. The second floor units is very charming but it could be a wonderful master bedroom with en-suite bath and rear deck overlooking a new pool below. The ceilings could be vaulted and the whole interior spaces transformed into a very decent sized Old Town residence with a striking architectural style. Conversion of the enclosed porches to open porches would reduce the living area by about 300 sq ft but it would add a tremendous amount of charm to the facade.

CLICK HERE to checkout the Key West mls database and to view listing photos of the interior. This is not a short sale but I would advise the current owner purchased this property in 2006 at a much higher price than the current asking price of $599,000 or $273 per sq ft. A new owner could keep the property as is and collect rent or do some interesting renovations. I vote for the latter.

If you would like to see 507 Frances Street please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West. Our office is the listing office for this property.

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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.