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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

522 Grinnell Street, Key West, Florida - A Virgin Restoration


Today marks the seventh time I have blogged about 522 Grinnell Street in Old Town Key West. Maybe this will be the last time I get to write about this property that I described as a "virgin" in an earlier blog. The view from the street as well as the inside indicated nothing had been done to update and protect the home for years and years. The home belonged to the same family since it was built in the 1880s until it was sold to the current owner in 2007. Up until then the  house was listed for sale by several different agents over the years. Instead of allowing the listing Realtor to show the house, the former owner insisted on doing all showings herself so that she could tell her family history as she moved from room to room. She said this house, like so many of the grand old homes in Key West, was built by ship chandlers. Key West was after all a major port. Large houses like this one had to be built to withstand strong winds and the elements. I remember standing on the second floor front balcony with the owner as she reminisced and told the story of her standing in the same spot with her father decades earlier as a huge storm passed across the eastern sky. Nothing happened. The house has withstood many storms over the years and will withstand more in the future.
If you look at the old black and white photo above as well as other front facing photos, you will see three sets of doors with pediments above. Petite French style total glass panels provide dramatic light in the living room. The third door is a bit of a mystery, however, because the door is not visible inside the house. That door is the backside of the interior stairway. And what a stairway it is. This stairway is ever-so-graceful. It has to be one of the most beautiful stairways in Key West. The stiles and handrail have been meticulously restored.  As you walk up the stairs take a look at the width of the Dade County Pine walls. You will see that many of the boards are extra wide. This indicates this wood came from old growth trees. All of the interior floors were refinished - not replaced.  Many of the floor planks are extra wide as well. 
The original doors, hardware, and door knobs were refurbished and put back into use. The original glass window panes were removed. The windows were all restored and made workable once again. The windows were re-glazed and look incredible.  An ancient addition to the back of the house was removed and a two story wrap around back porch was added. Portions of the front exterior were replaced. If you compare the front facade as shown in the black and white photo and compare it with the current color photo you won't see any difference. The back of the house, however, is totally changed. The views from the second floor rear balcony are incredible.
I would not call this house "grand", but there are many design elements that make this house very impressive nonetheless. They include the first and second floor wrap around porches. Inside, the main floor has a ceiling height of twelve feet. The second floor ceiling is a mere eleven feet. A south facing bay window in the living room and a north facing bay window in parlor add sophistication to this otherwise understated house. Two very large interior doors separate the living room from the dining room where there is a petite fire place. (There is no chimney, but what the heck. Having a fireplace in Key West is a hoot!  
Earlier I mentioned the non-functional front door and the stairway. What a stairway it is. This stairway is ever-so-graceful. It has to be one of the most beautiful stairways in Key West. The stiles and handrail have been meticulously restored.  As you walk up the stairs take a look at the width of the Dade County Pine walls. You will see that many of the boards are extra wide. This indicates this wood came from old growth trees. All of the interior floors were refinished - not replaced.  Many of the floor planks are extra wide as well.
 

CLICK HERE to view photos that show this historic home during various stages during and after the restoration.  Please look through the photos and see what treasures you may find. This home ought to appeal to a purist - a buyer who wants the closest thing to the original house. You will notice I did not post any photos of the kitchen.  There is no kitchen, but the room is restored and awaits the new owner's choice of cabinetry and appliances.  This home has off street parking and room for a large pool and possibly a cabana in the extra large rear yard.

522 Grinnell Street is offered at $2,000,000. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of this simple but very elegant Key West home.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.


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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.