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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

1010 - 1012 Olivia Street, Key West - The Beginning of the End

Local folk artist Ronny Bailey stopped by my office last week to show me (and my Dear Readers) his latest work a special commission of the two houses at 1010 and 1012 Olivia Street in Key West.  The owner of these houses wanted to capture the essence of these houses as they now exist because like much of old Key West, they are about to get renovated. I took a lot of photos of Ronny's art which you can see if you CLICK HERE.
If you look carefully you will seethe word "peace" printed on the wood floor in the photo above.  Ronny always includes the words love, peace, and joy in each piece he creates. He is a religious and loving person. This is how he sees life and how he relates to others. You meet this man and you immediately understand his ethos.
Ronny told me he salvaged wood from the actual houses to create these miniatures. The "metal" roofs are actually wood that he has painted to resemble metal. He carved the chickens on the front porch. Ronnie ripped a larger piece of wood to create the "plywood" floors on the front porches. The front door at 1012 Olivia Street has a screen door. Ronny had a piece of wire screen he had saved from another house from years before. He added a coat of paint to it to reduce the size of the screen to fit into the tiny door. It looked amazingly correct.Look closely at the second floor window on 1010 Olivia (three above). There you will see a hole in the window.  These are all little details that make up the story of old house like this. Ronny Bailey's art can be seen at local shows in Key West. He does prints of various pieces for folks that are not prepared to pay the cost of a major installation. No matter what you buy, you will always love it and cherish it for it shows the true beauty of our old homes.
CLICK HERE to see more photos of the two real houses. These will appear in at least one future blog as the renovation of these two iconic cottages take place.  Several years ago the owner of prior owner of the abutting property on Watson  Street told me that 1012 Olivia Street used to be a house of ill repute. He called it something else that's more descriptive.
I checked the historic Sanborn Fire Maps to see if I could determine when these houses were built. This area was entirely omitted in the earliest map which dates back to 1889. I did find both houses on the 1892 map but at that time they were identified as 922 and 924 Olivia Street. The addresses were respectfully changed to 1010 and 1012 Olivia in the 1889 map. The 1889 map showed a vacant lot next to 1012  Olivia. That vacant spot still exists. But the street does not show on that map. It wasn't until the 1912 map that Peerless Court (later named Watson Street) appeared on the map. In fact the street did not exist at all until that time. There were houses interspersed on the extra large block bounded by Frances on the east, Grinnell on the west, Olivia to the north, and Division Street (Truman Avenue) to the south.
I talked with Ronny about the coming renovation of these two old decrepit houses. I guess you can't blame an owner for wanting to fix up an old house and make it look nice - maybe even to sell it. The thing is if we keep fixing all the old houses there won't be any of the character left in our town except the derelicts that sit on Duval Street performing tricks or outright begging for money. This is the beginning of the end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Gary! You are the best-Stephanie and Ronny Bailey


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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.