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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

712 Love Lane - A Secluded Gem - Key West

I have written about 712 Love Lane a couple of times before. This house, listed by another agent, had an open house this past weekend.  A visitor to the open house snapped the photo above and posted it to her Instagram with the following comment:  "Touring a secluded gem on Love Lane that has provided inspiration to many distinguished authors..." with a series of instagram hashtags.  It's wonderful how people that see places like this just fall in love with Key West and the little houses we call home.

If you are a hopeless romantic you'll may fall in love with today's home when you read the address. But if you're a pragmatist you may actually need to walk to the end of the lane, open the gate, and enter garden before you fall in love with this home. And after that all hope is lost for you will be surely, truly, madly, deeply in love with 712 Love Lane.

Today's home is located at the very end of Love Lane in Old Town Key West. In her book Key West Houses author Leslie Lindsey described 712 Love Lane as "an enchanting environment with a brick-and-stone patio and overhead trellis laden with cascading bougainvillea."

The listing broker describes this wonderful home this way:
"One of the island's best kept secrets. This 4 bedroom, 3 bath all-on-one-level triple saw tooth shotgun proved inspirational to many. Harry Roberts was the model for Harry Morgan in Hemingway's Key West novel To Have and Have Not''. Bill Wright, Russell Baker, and David Halberstram have all been inspired by this gem, secluded behind the library palm garden. Judith Kazantzis immortalized the home in her poem, Love Lane, Key West''. The main home and separate guest cottage with bath open to the private deck and 9 foot deep heated lap pool with outdoor shower. Cypress shutters and cypress cabinets with travertine tops in the kitchen and dining area. Located off Fleming Street at the end of Love Lane with off-street parking."
Let me first tell you why it is so "secret" - it's because there are three separate "Love Lanes" each located near the other but far enough apart to totally confuses just above anyone. If you walk on the north side of Southard Street you will find a Love Lane sign midway between William and Elizabeth Streets.. If you walk down the lane you will find that the lane abruptly ends where a house sits and the lane ends. Bur if you are walk on the south side of Fleming Street between Elizabeth and William Streets you will find an unmarked walking lane that begins at the edge of the Monroe County Public Library (which has been referred to as the Pink Library). This, too, is Love Lane. And if you went back to Southard Street and walked on the south side of the street you would find a tiny little walking lane, a lane also called Love Lane. In his book The Streets of Key West author J. Willis Burke explains the confusion about Love Lane:
"Love can generate some confusion - and Love Lane is no exception. Some maps show to Loves, one coming off Fleming and another off Southard, but not meeting mid-block. Other maps indicate Gwynn Street, named for a former mayor and cigar tycoon E. O. Gwynn, is the lane that runs off Southard. And yet another source cites Johnny Cake Lane as making up the northern half of Love Lane. At one time perhaps it did... As confirmed by the loving couple who lives on the Fleming Street side of the lane, both are now called Love Lane. It seems they don't meet because the bungalow that bisects the lane was built on the sly, and over the decades, has been grandfathered and let stand."
Love Lane adjacent to the Monroe County Library Garden
712 Love Lane is located at the end of the quiet little lane
I searched the old Sanborn Fire Maps and found what I believe to be 712 Love Lane. Love Lane existed and was named the same in the 1889 Sanborn Map, but the houses were not numbered. I checked the maps for later years and the house still stands where as the larger house at the corner at Fleming is gone. Today that space is the library garden. The early cottage was simple. I dug into the old shoebox and found 812 Love Lane is it was photographed in 1965 - below.
Like so many places in Old Town, this home has been added onto over the years. Rooms, multiple decks, a pool, a guest cottage are pieces that slowly became parts of a new whole. According to the listing agent what was once a small cottage is now a 1462 sq ft home with three bedrooms in the main house plus the guest cottage or pool house which declares to a bedroom. Below are photos of this home as it looked when still owner occupied.
When you enter the home you see the dining room on the right. It's a magnificent space with soaring ceiling, a library wall crammed with books and windows that look out to the garden of the Monroe County Library, and the front porch. A quiet little reading nook completes this space.
On the opposite side of the room is the living area with walls that seem to reach to heaven. Cedar shutters line the French doors on the south side which filter the view of the pool. Art has found a home on these walls which themselves become a piece of art. Look through the open door and view the first of three bedrooms in the main house. Notice the pickled wood flooring that is light and practical and in harmony with the house.
Pine walls were whitewashed which allowed the pink tones of the wood to show through. Louvered cedar shutters open out to the pool.
I found it difficult to pick a favorite spot because each room or space is so precious in its own right. I love the spartan bedroom with the single bed. It has a window that looks out to library garden. The shutter lined master bedroom made me want to jump on the bed and take a nap. The gauzy front bedroom begged me to peer through the shutters out to the pool. And then there is that insane kitchen with the soaring ceiling and handmade cedar cabinets. You absolutely positively cannot buy that charm from Home Depot or IKEA here. This kitchen was created with LOVE in mind.

The pool is located on the south side of the property. Some pools that face south get an hour or so of sun each day. This pool should stay sunny most of the day throughout most of the year. Sometimes buyers miss things like that. It's always nice to have a pool with some sun and some shade. Not all people are bronzed gods and not all gods need to bake all day. The guest cottage or pool house (or fourth bedroom) is located at the far end of the pool.
The pool house (guest cottage) is located at the far end of the pool.  I walked inside and looked at the room and my jaw dropped. Who wouldn't love to sleep, or take a nap, or do other stuff in this place? The cottage has a tiny bath so if could function as a bedroom. This space is so restful.
I was nearing the end of taking photos when I snapped the above picture. I told the listing agent that Ralph Lauren must have created this space - it is just perfect!  He didn't, but I think you get what I mean. CLICK HERE to see all of the photos I took of 712 Love Lane.
Kevin N. McCarthy's book The Book Lover's Guide to Florida: Authors, Books and Literary Sites notes that author William Wright lived at 712 Love Lane (for about ten years). The present owners purchased this home from Wright in 1987. They created a masterpiece.  712 Love Lane is now vacant.  All of the furnishings are gone.  The house and garden await the vision of a new owner. The house needs painted and maybe the baths need updated. The house, however, is a little masterpiece that only needs preserved not remade.
This property has been rented during the 2013 season as a vacation rental at $15,000 per month.  I think a new owner might improve on the monthly rental a bit.  You could not ask for a better location than this home. And I don't think there are many houses that are as picturesque as this.  

CLICK HERE to view the Key West Association of Realtors mls datasheet and to view listing photos. If you would like to see 712 Love Lane with me, Gary Thomas, please call me a 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Property Key West. You'll fall in love with this secluded gem!

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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.