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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

517 Grinnell Street - Old Town - Key West

I got to take photos of 517 Grinnell Street a couple of days ago. As I neared the completion of my task, I told the listing agent "I love my job" and added that I get to see so many beautiful homes. This home has got to be among the very best in all Key West. The property is owned and listed by Rudy Molinet and Harry Hoehn of Marquis Properties who describes the property thus:
"Luxurious and Elegant renovation of a classic 5 bedroom estate in highly coveted Old Town Key West. Highest quality finishes and exquisite interiors earned a Ceramic Star Award for Historic Renovation. Dade County Pine walls and heart-pine floors. Spectacular kitchen with African Anigre Wood cabinets and Brazilian Azul Macauba granite. Ten foot high ceilings. Huge master suite with walk-in closet/dressing room, vaulted ceilings, private balcony, and walk-in master shower. Three master suites including a first floor master bedroom. Nearly 6000 square foot lush tropical lot. 40 foot heated pool with waterfall. Off-street parking for 2 vehicles. Spacious detached guest house. A Breathtaking Historic Treasure in Old Town Key West."
Look below to see how the original house and rear two story cottage looked before the properties were literally taken apart and rebuilt. I dug into the old shoe box and found the black and white photo of the property taken in 1965. Compare that somewhat pure visage with the next pic which shows how the house looked a couple of years ago before the restoration began. Then take in the newly renovated home the way it looks today. Is there any wonder why this property was awarded a Ceramic Award for Historic Preservation? I think not.

This home was the 21st such renovation undertaken by the owners.  They designed the project in cooperation with local architect Michael Miller.  While the newly rebuilt houses look like period correct properties on the outside, key elements of the interiors are quite contemporary with a blend of historic materials such as Dade County Pine walls and 2 over 2 windows. Ten foot high ceilings on the first floor and vaulted ceilings on the second give the home a spacious and bright ambiance. The kitchen, for example, is sleek and  utilitarian. The African Anigre Wood cabinets and Brazilian Azul Macauba granite are knockouts. The bathrooms throughout both houses are sleek and seductive, especially the master bath in the main house.

Let's take a quick tour of the two homes. We shall start at the front porch of the main house and work toward the guest cottage.

As soon as you enter the interior you know you have arrived at someplace important.  Nothing has been left undone. No detail was too small not to matter.  The Dade County Pine was removed from the original houses and re-planed and eventually reinstalled but not necessarily where it was originally located. The wood floors in the main house are river-reclaimed antique heart pine. The wood was harvested from rivers in central Florida by divers who retrieve logs that sank years ago on the way to the mill. The wood is about 500 years old and, once harvested, is custom milled into elegant and gorgeous wood floors. Crisp new baseboards, window and door trim, and crown molding punctuate each room. Subtle recessed lighting is located throughout both houses.  The owners invested heavily in insulation of all walls and ceilings and even insulated the floors from below the house.  The house is very quiet and energy efficient with high SEER air conditioning and gas on-demand water heaters.

The main house has a first floor guest room (or office as presently used) with en-suite bath. This room is large enough to function as a master bedroom in the event the stairs become an issue later in life. Glass doors give the room some privacy while at the same time stylishly separate the room from the rest of the house.

The entry hall leads to the rear where the large living room is located. Just after you pass the guest bath located off the entry hallway you will see a notable feature of this home which is the newly added rounded wood tower that evokes the style of historic of a historic tower common in Victorian architecture. Michael Miller suggested adding the tower to give this home architectural distinction.  The first floor space expanded the interior dining area. The second floor portion is used as the closet and dressing area for the master suite. The roof is covered in metal Conch shingles. The tower itself was built with a steel frame sitting on a large concrete footer. The windows are impact rated.  The scalloped cedar shingles are painted the same color of the house.  While the look is historic, the tower is constructed of  modern building materials to comply with the 155 mph wind load of the building code.

The ground floor portion tower extension dramatically expands the living space and adds lots of light from the outside. So many homes in the Old Town area are hindered by tall neighboring properties or too many trees that sap up the sunshine. This home has lots of windows throughout.

Retractable glass doors known as Nana walls make up the rear wall of the main level. These doors stack to the side which allows the outside living room and dining area to become an extension of the main part of the home.  When I first walked out to this space my eyes went toward the guest cottage and pool, but then my attention came right back to the incredible floors and columns which give this space the feeling of being a real "room" except that the space is "outdoors".  The floors in this outdoor living space are IPE with inserts of Pink Cuban tiles from the original house that were salvaged. The tiles were individually refinished by local jeweler Diamond Dave. The Cuban tiles were re-installed by tile master Tommy Lapp over historic cistern that was reactivated and which is now used for irrigation. A computer system regulates the filling of the cistern from rainwater retrieved from the gutters.

The second floor of the main house includes the quite inviting and almost invisible front porch where you can sit and watch the world go by down below. The porch is located just off the second floor front bedroom.

Note the vaulted ceiling of the front bedroom which gives this area such a spacious feeling. This bedroom has an en-suite bath.  The second floor hallway also leads to the rear where the master suite is located.

The master suite has an almost circular flow from the sleeping area to the bath and then back around to the dressing area and closet.  The closet must be one of the most expensive in all of Key West given the cost of constructing the rounded tower.  Two sets of French doors open out to the sundeck which is a perfect place for private sun worship or whatever. There is a great view of the super seductive 40 foot long pool and water wall from the deck. 

The guest cottage is so nice and so well designed and thought out that guests may refuse to leave. This has got to be the best guest house of any I have seen in Key West.  This building, like the main house, was totally redone. And like the main house, the interiors are all contemporary.  Below are a few photos that help illustrate why I find this guest space so seductive. As I finished taking photos of the pool I notice a hidden rear deck just off the first floor bedroom. I snapped some pics and went inside and said "Wow!". 

The hallway leads to the bath and later the kitchen and then the two story living room.  Talk about dramatic spaces.  Wow again.

I took a lot of photos which you may see if you CLICK HERE. I encourage potential buyers to look through all the photos. The photos offer a glimpse of the the thought that went into the design and construction of 517 Grinnell Street which is offered at $2,895,000.  Better than just looking at photos, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Wow, Wow, Wow.

This house is amazing. However, the price doesn't seem as high as it should be compared to other high-end homes. What's the catch?


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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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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.