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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Ernest Hemingway House - in Miniature

Ronny Bailey is a six generation Conch that spent 30 years of his life as a carpenter who repaired and restored many of the old houses in Key West. A few years ago he started tinkering around with some salvaged Dade County Pine and created his first new old house replica. His wife came home from work and exclaimed "I didn't know you could do that!" Ronny replied "Neither did I." And so began his new career as artist-carpenter who uses salvaged lumber to create miniature near replicas of real houses and buildings in Key West. 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 most recent piece is a miniature version of the Ernest Hemingway House which is located at 907 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida.  I found a photo of the real house so that you can compare the real with Ronny Bailey's folk art.  Ronny's version comes complete with a hand carved figure of the old man himself standing on the front porch with fishing pole in hand. Cats abound everywhere - on the roof, on the porches, in the garden, and even lounging in the flower box. If you look inside the first floor center door you will see a cat laying on the stairway. Inside each door or window you will find some vignette that sets each space off with a bit of Ronny's passion for whimsy and detail.  Inside one window Ronny painted a mirror hanging on the wall. The mirror reflects the blue sky and palm tree one would reflected from across Whitehead Street. On the wall behind another door there is a painting of Ernest and a trophy fish he caught. 

Unlike the majority of Ronny's pieces which are fashioned of Dade County Pine, the Hemingway House is stucco.  The first floor French doors and second floor windows have paladin windows that given this home a look unlike others in Key West. The ground floor has saltillo tiles whereas the second floor deck has wood planks. The wrought iron pillars surround the house to support the second floor deck.  If you look close you will see the two story porch attaches to the metal roof system so familiar in Key West.  You must look very carefully CLICK HERE to see minute details like paint drippings and clamps that attach the metal roof to the porch system. 

And just so that you appreciate the magnitude of this undertaking, everything you see was carved or created by Ronny Bailey.  Nothing you see came out of a "kit".  You cannot go to any store to buy the iron railing, or historically correct wood shutters, or any minute artifact that makes up the totality of this piece of art. 

The Ernest Hemingway House and other pieces of Ronny Bailey's art are now on display at the Fleming Street Gallery at 830 Fleming Street, Key West. Ronny's larger pieces are quite expensive. He has created small version that may be purchased at lower prices.  See two examples below. 

 CLICK HERE to view more pics of the Ronny's Hemingway House. Click on any photo to enlarge. 

I am continually amazed at the attention to detail and the love Ronny imparts to each piece of work he creates. The original pieces are quite expensive. The smaller high quality art photos are reasonably priced and will appeal to Hemingway and Bailey fans alike. Get them before they are gone.

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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.