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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Things That Have Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen or How to Get Over the Key West Cemetery and Enjoy Life

Do not take life too seriously – you will never get out of it alive. - Elbert Hubbard

The quote is funny, and yes it is true.  The tragedy of the quote is that many people live in a pretend world where they do not die.  Or maybe it is just that they prefer not to think about it or talk about it.  Vacationers come to Key West and take Ghost Tours or walking tours that often end up at the Key West Cemetery. They take photos of the graves and sometimes even post ghoulish photos of themselves or the tombstones on the Internet.  I, for one, have never been inside the Key West Cemetery. I'm not afraid. I just have had no reason to go there.  And as I understand it, there is no room for me should I need it.

I can report that locals have a long lived "love affair" with the cemetery.  I found the two photos below that portray the events of a funeral in 1934. If you look carefully between the two monument pillars on either side of the gate and look up to the house at the top of Windsor Lane you can barely detect 630 Elizabeth Street about which I have recently written.  (You can click any photo for a larger version.) The ceremony of funeral parade through the streets of Key West continues today.  I have not seen one in a couple of years.  Let me tell you that it is mighty powerful stuff. The last one passed by old city hall on Angela Street. A former colleague led the process swinging a scepter as the mourners paraded up Angela Street which then becomes Windsor Lane and that eventually leads to the final resting place in the Key West Cemetery.  A small choral group passed by singing. They were followed by a brass band that had had me clapping and crying at the same moment. It was an awesome experience to witness the passing of someone whose name I did not know but who had so many loyal friends to take him to meet the Lord.
It seems like I am forever writing about houses that are located on or near the cemetery or one of our busier street like White, or Eaton, or Whitehead, or United, and even Southard.  Potential buyers normally shy away from all of those streets except Southard.  Those streets do experience a good amount of daytime traffic.  But traffic dissipates to a trickle after sunset when the delivery and service trucks stop and the office workers return home for the evening. When you really think about it, a huge number of our Old Town houses are located on one of these named streets or on streets that face, abut, or have view of the Key West Cemetery. And for some buyers, the location of a house with any cemetery view is an absolute no-no. For them, what has been seen cannot be unseen. To those buyers I say get over the Key West Cemetery and enjoy life.
Look at all the homes that border or are located within eyesight of the cemetery
I was recently working with some buyers who want a cute Key West cottage. I told them about a particular house that is located near the cemetery.  The wife refused to look. I implored her just to look - to give the place a chance. Nay! She said. I told her about a customer of mine to whom I sold a big house a few years ago. The house is located on a street near the cemetery. He also did not want to look at it because of the location. He said his twin daughters would be afraid to walk by the cemetery. I eventually got him to look. Then he discovered the value of this place, and then he bought it. The girls are in college now. I recently asked him how his daughters responded to living near the cemetery. He said it did not phase them.  He said they love their house, their pool, and their ability to come to Key West to chill.  End of story.
Sometimes so of the very best deals in Key West are houses that are located on the busier daytime streets or that have views of the cemetery.  To buyers that want a deal, do not be afraid to look where some fear to look. If you are among the people who wanted to buy a house in Key West when the prices were really low when it looked like the market was still going to tumble further but didn't, consider looking at a home located on one of our busy daytime streets or one that is near the cemetery.

Having the cemetery as a neighbor will mean quiet nights with no parties. You will enjoy more sunshine and breezes. And you just may get a bargain in the process.  Oh, if you are looking to buy a place in Key West and if you are not working with a Realtor, call me, Gary Thomas. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.


Anonymous said...

Gary - It's intersting how people's perspectives differ. You helped us find an awesome condo on one of KW's "famous streets," but what we have always wanted is a cute little conch house on the cemetary or off one of the cemetary lanes.

On our first visit to KW around 1990, you could pull up the chain link fence before the new fancy fence, and scoot under and walk arouund the cemetary after dark and feel the history and quiet contentment of all of those laid to rest in paradise.

I understand some folks sensibilities with the mobidity surrounding a cemetary, but the KW cemetary, just like our quirky little island, can't be compared with the typical is the center of the island, high ground an a great energy.

One day you'll show us a cute little place on Olivia, off Grinnell, Windsor Lane or Francis and we'll snap it up!

Gary Thomas said...

Buy it before I get too old and need a permanent resting piece of my own.....please!


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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.