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Thursday, April 18, 2013

532 Fleming Street - Old Town - Key West

532 Fleming Street - Key West - April 2013
532 Fleming Street - Key West - 1912
The house pictured above looks pretty much the same in 2013 as it did back in 1912 when the colored post card was made. Back then the property was not a "house" but was instead the Louise Maloney Hospital.

Thank God that when other towns across America were allowing old houses and historic buildings to be torn down to erect new structures, Key West preserved properties like this. I found a photo of 532 Fleming Street taken from the parking lot next door which is where the world famous Faustos' Food Emporium is located today.
The red brick building at 500 Simonton Street (photographed in 1965) was the old corner drug store. That makes sense with the hospital located next door. 504 Simonton Street (below) became part of the hospital as well.
I did a quick internet search and learned a brief history of the three properties which were once owned by the Maloney family which later became the Spottswood family. CLICK HERE to view a brief history of the Spottswood Family which mentions the Louise Maloney Hospital. CLICK HERE to read a brief discussion of the three building complex. A member of the Spottswood family still resides at 500 Simonton Street today.

The current owner of 532 Fleming Street commissioned local artist Ronny Bailey to create a depiction of the former Louise Maloney Hospital. I was offered the opportunity to photograph the piece yesterday morning. A crowd had assembled to gaze at the new piece. Everyone was in awe of Ronny's creation. Please take a couple of minutes to view a few of the photos.
Ronny Bailey is a fourth generation conch that spent 30 years of his life restoring many of the old houses in Key West. A few years ago he started fooling around with some salvaged Dade County Pine and created his first new old house replica. His wife came home and exclaimed "I didn't know you could do that!" Ronny replied "Neither did I." And so began his new career as artist-carpenter where he creates miniature near replicas of real houses in Key West using salvaged lumber. Ronny stresses that he only uses old salvaged wood to construct the houses. He doesn't paint the pieces. Instead he relies on the ravages of our sun and the weather to create the natural patina that make each piece look so genuine. Ronny's inner artist comes out when he adds a bit of whimsy to his work such as a rooster or a cat napping.
Since the 532 Fleming Street was commissioned by the owner, Ronny agreed to paint that piece to show the original glory of the house. The dog, cat, and whimsy were not permitted, but Ronny did manage to keep in the three little words that are the hallmark of his blessed life.

CLICK HERE to view more photos of 532 Fleming Street as well as 500 and 504 Simonton Street as they appear today. I added a couple of photos of art created by another of my favorite artists, Rick Worth, who did a rendering of 500 Simonton Street.
There are a lot of artists in Key West. There is only one Ronny Bailey!



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ronny Bailey is not only an amazing artist/craftsman but he is also a wonderfully nice person. I had the chance to meet him when he did a scale version of old town bakery he is a genuine person and a huge asset to Key West.

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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.