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Friday, July 29, 2011

Key West and The Hundred Dollar House...

As we all know Key West is located at the very end of U.S. 1. There is a sign at the corner of Whitehead and Fleming Streets where tourists take pictures of themselves as proof that they have reached the end of America. Having a town located so far away has always meant that things cost more here because everything costs more if you have to haul it or fly it or sail it to Key West. At least that is the logic retailers, restaurateurs, and gas station owners use to justify their sky high prices. Housing costs weren't always high in Key West. But ever since the gays started spiffing the place up in the 1970's, prices have gone up and up. Rare is the opportunity to buy an old house in Key West for a cheap price.

I found a couple of instances of old houses that were moved from one location to another for prices that astound me. The first is an old house previously located on Simonton Street across the street from the famous Peggy Mills house which later became the ultra chic Gardens Hotel. The second is a house that was moved this month from near the Key West cemetery to the White Street business district.

509 Southard Street many years ago

Handwritten on the back of photo - Freddie Deon sold me this building for 100. It was across from Peggy Mills. I couldn't move it so let it go. He moved it to 509 Southard Street and it is now excellent photograph store next to Porter Allen Insurance Co.

509 Southard Street today is now a cafe that is attached to the Pegasus Hotel at the corner of Duval and Southard Street.

The second example is the house that was that is no more that was replaced by the house that got booted out of Key West's cemetery to make room for more tombs. Read on.

The old house at 1018 White Street had seen a better day.

This old house at 819 Olivia Street was built in the 1890's. Normally messing with an old house in Key West is verboten.

The Key West Cemetery surrounded 819 Olivia Street on three sides. The cemetery has run of space for new graves and tombs. That fact made it easier to get permission to relocate 819 Olivia Street to another location. The house was reportedly sold for only $500 to a local who then had to move it.

Preparations were made at the location of the former falling down house at 1018 White Street which was razed. The lot was prepped for the arrival of the soon to be relocated house from 819 Olivia Street.

Locals recognize piers as being the foundation upon which most homes in Old Town are built. In this instance, new footers were dug to bedrock and new piers were poured so that the relocated old house could be placed upon and secured into the piers. The interior of the house will be updated, utilities connected, the outside spiffed up, and landscaping installed.

Last week the house was uprooted from its old perch and moved down Olivia Street for the four block ride to its new home. Key West's finest blocked intersections along the route and diverted traffic as the house inched its way to the new location.

Here it sits between a cake shop and Sandy's Cafe waiting to be spiffed.

Since most people can't buy (or even rent) any place in Key West for $500, you will need to pay market price for the house of your dreams. CLICK HERE to search the Key West mls database. If you see something that interests you, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or by email at I am a buyer's agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West. Several of the houses I have written about in the past few weeks are already under contract. Don't procrastinate.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog -- it is one of the most informative i've found on kw, and the old pictures and research you do are amazing! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

This is a great post Gary - I know that house - I always wondered what it was doing there. Next time I'm on the island - now I'll know what happened to it. Thanks for the update!


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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.