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Sunday, February 12, 2017

514 Elizabeth Street, Key West


Just Listed 514 Elizabeth Street, Key West. I have written about this house a few times over the ten years I have written my blog, not because it has been offered for sale but rather to share with my Dear Readers that this is the first house I sold in Key West.  It has been owned by the same people these many years. As I recall there were three factors that influenced their decision to buy this place. First, the house really is historic - it is one of the very oldest homes in Key West. Second, it has a great location equal distance to Duval Street and the Historic Seaport. And three it had off street parking and a deep back yard with room for a pool. The owners built that pool, the old house charm and the location never changed. Today this home is offered for sale at $1,500,000.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe famously said, "Less is more."  The simplicity of design and original construction make it stand out among the many homes in Old Town that have been over-renovated. My research shows the house as having been built circa 1855. The photo directly below shows the house in 1965. Below that is a photo I took a about then years ago. The bottom photo was taken in 2013 from 517 Elizabeth shorty after it was remodeled and offered for sale. The present owner is an architectural historian. He told me  that 514 Elizabeth is "is typical of the conch or Bahamian house built in the Bahamas from the 1780s and in Key West prior to the Civil War. The original architectural moldings that survive are typical of the 1835-1860 period."
The facade is so simple. The front porch is meant for setting. The front door opens into a wide hallway with the formal parlor on the right and the ground floor bedroom on the left. There is a main floor bath at the left rear. The stairway to the second floor bedrooms is located on the right. The original Dade County Pine walls and floors are still intact throughout the house. The only noticeable things I saw that has changed is the front scuttle no long is visible inside the second floor bedrooms. The house has central air conditioning and that vitiated the need to use the scuttle for ventilation.
You probably can't tell it from the photos but the wood walls also help us date the house. The wood planks are much wider than typical houses from the 1890s and beyond. That means the Dade County Pine walls were "old growth lumber" which means earlier construction. The floors and walls have settled a bit with age. Purists who want a genuine old house will appreciate this. People who want something is all perfect will not. I remember staying at the Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds many years ago. We stayed in the room that Oliver Cromwell stayed in the night before the Battle of Hastings in 1620. The room tilted a bit. The hotel had a fancy new addition. I preferred the tilt. And that is why I find this house so utterly charming.
 The previous owner added a new kitchen and dining area more than twenty years ago. It is showing its age a bit. A new owner might update the space.
One of the joys of living in Key West is the ability to open the doors in the winter and allow the sunshine inside and merge the inside with the outside at night. Two separate spaces become one environment to share with family and friends. It's meals on heels instead of meals on wheels here.
During the daytime the pool is the perfect place to get than Key West tan that will make your friends from the frozen north green with envy.
A new owner might build a rear cottage on the north side of this L-shaped lot where the current lower level dining area is located. The new structure could be built at the same height as the laundry cottage across the pool on the north. There appears to be enough ground to comply with set back and lot usage requirements. If this were done, the new owner could end of having a four bedroom home in an ideal Old Town location. CLICK HERE to view more photos of this home.
CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet on 514 Elizabeth Street which is a Pre-Civil War home in Key West offered by Preferred Properties at $1,500,000. Then call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to schedule a private showing. This is a great location and a precious home in our community.

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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.