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Monday, April 8, 2013

517 Elizabeth Street - Old Town - Key West - The Lure of the Night-Caller

I am always searching for something new (or old as the case may be) to add a bit of character the the Old Town houses that I write about on my little blog. Whilst searching the Internet I found the photo of the handsome young man below who once resided at 517 Elizabeth Street, Key West. His name was Charles Olivieri. He lived at 517 Elizabeth Street and was employed by the Florida East Coast Railroad as a Night-Caller. I just love the ring of that occupation which today would likely be construed as something involving the sex trade. That's why I put his photo on here because what we see today in the old houses of Key West is usually a reinterpretation of what was once one thing and which today is something else. In the instance of the house at 517 Elizabeth Street, that most certainly is the case.
I wrote about 517 Elizabeth Street last year when it was briefly listed for sale in 2012. I said "I expect this home will be under contract (probably all cash if custom rules) within a short time. This is exactly the type of home buyers with an urge to redo want to purchase." It went under contract immediately. The new owners engaged noted local architect Tom Pope to assist in the design of the to be renovated old house that sat on a huge lot on one of the best blocks in Key West. The renovation included the demolition of a dysfunctional old building at the rear and the construction of a new great room (living, dining, and kitchen) and pool.
I got a chance to take some photos of the interior of the original (main) house a couple of months ago while construction was still underway. All sorts of trades people were working that day.  There was hustle and bustle everywhere, but the owner was present and keeping a watchful eye on everyone and on every detail.

I think the Monroe County Property Appraiser records on this house are factually incorrect because they show the original house having been built in 1953. I don't buy it for a minute. The room sizes and interior layout hearkened back to what we see in other Old Town houses built at the turn of the 20th Century, not what was built in Mid-Century America. There was a garage located at the rear, however, that had the earmarks of odd Mid-Century design (if you call it design).  And there was that rear building that attached to the house that seemed to have outlived its usefulness. The garage and rear building were razed.
I got a chance to photograph the interior yesterday afternoon. I assumed the old house would still be an "old house".  That's the problem about assuming things. The assumption is often wrong. My assumption certainly was.  Even though I had been inside the house during the renovation, I was not prepared for the new house that now occupied the space which the Night-Caller once called home.

The main entry is reversed from what I would normally expect to see. The beautiful stairway leads to the second floor where the hall leads to an office on the north and two bedrooms on the left. A large second floor front porch provides an excellent vantage point for people watching.

The master bedroom and en-suite bath is located at the front of the original house.

The Night-Caller might be as surprised to see the shiny chrome door knobs and light fixtures as I was. The particular pieces are solid brass which have been chrome plated.
The great room addition is located at the rear. What an incredible space it is.  A recessed pocket door opens to reveal the stunning space filled with light and high volume ceilings.  The new pool and gardens are located beyond.  The kitchen is located to the immediate right and the dining area sits just a tad further to the east. The far left side provide
517 Elizabeth Street is visually stunning.  I think a buyer who wants an old house would feel very much at home in this new space. It has the earmarks of an old house but the freshness of contemporary styling throughout. This is not a house trapped in any one time period.

The listing Realtor, not me, describes 517 Elizabeth Street as:
"Elegant family home in Key West's premier Old Town location. Historic home with superb curb appeal offers people watching and privacy from amazing porches.Private & spacious first floor master bedroom has beautifully restored Dade County Pine and walk in closet. Three 2nd floor bedrooms offer enjoyable and comfortable space for family and friends. Entertaining is effortless in this fully equipped kitchen with Viking and Bosch stainless appliances. The great room boasts a spectacular cathedral ceiling and is filled with natural light from large windows. This Beautifully tiled 18x35 room flows onto large terrace to a 9X20 pool, surrounded by lush landscape for privacy. Rare opportunity to own covered parking and 2 addtl parking spaces."
517 Elizabeth Street is offered for sale at $1,999,000. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet. And CLICK HERE to view the photos I took of this wonder Key West property.

If you would like to see this home which the Night-Caller once called home please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gary,

Any idea who did the interior design on this beauty?

Gary Thomas said...

Dear Anon., One of the owners did the interiors. I was totally awe struck by the pieces in the great room. The 'style' was evident as soon as I passed through the doorway.

I asked Todd, one of the owners, if he had been trained in design, and he said no. His talent seemed to just happen. I hardly think anything this successful just happens. Winning a lottery just happens. Creating something this amazing takes talent!



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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.