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Monday, May 22, 2017

Key West and the Slop Jug House

I have been selling houses in Key West for over twenty years. I have watched so many of the creepy old houses get all dolled-up and made into something very charming. Twenty years ago there were plenty of creepy places. One such place was owned by an old Conch lady. For the new reader a Conchs are native Key West residents who have generations of relatives that precede them and children of their own plus grand children, nieces, nephews and "cuzes" galore. Old Conch family names can be found on street signs, public buildings, and store fronts across town. Conchs are rightly proud of their heritage and are mindful of their progeny.

I had a year-long history of working with a wannabe buyer who was looking for a bargain. He didn't have a particular style of house or price range in mind as much as he had the need to get a "bargain". He had the cash to pay in excess of one million dollars which ten years ago was still quite a bit of money, especially when he was looking for a fixer upper. As we drove down the street he noticed a creepy old house and asked me how much it cost. I said it was not for sale. He said "I want to see it!" I again said it was not for sale. Undeterred he told me to stop my car. We got out and walked past the broken front gate and up the wobbly steps.
I don't remember if he knocked on the door of if it was me. The old lady owner opened the door. I was expecting her to order us off her porch.  A year or more earlier I encountered her when I legally parked my car on the street by her house. She was sweeping the sidewalk that day, a sight I had seen on numerous occasions. She yelled at me and told me that was her parking space and demanded that I move my car. I obliged even though it was a public street.
So when she opened the door and did not yell, I was both surprised and relieved.  I introduced myself and my buyer who I said was interested in her home. She quickly stated it was not for sale but then gave us a lengthy lecture about her birth and life in this old home.  She denounced all of the changes made in Key West.  She said the home would transfer to her son someday. That day came sooner rather than later. The son wasted no time in trying to sell the house for mucho denero. I wrote about the house shortly after it was listed for sale. The house eventually sold for a considerable sum of money. It took a couple of years to renovate the home. It is spectacular.

I recently looked through the old photos and was reminded of how creepy the house actually was before it was renovated. The current house looks nothing like the house when occupied by the prior owner when the steps were falling down, the rear balconies were ready to collapse, and once great rooms housed relics like a three legged chair and a table in the master bedroom with a slop jug on top even though there was a perfectly usable bathroom ten feet away.

That was ten years ago. There are fewer and fewer old houses like those and even fewer of the old Conch ladies. Most of the old Conchs have either passed or sold their houses and moved up to Ocala where they could buy a nice house at a much cheaper price than in Key West and have a cool cash in the bank.
If you are looking to buy a place in Key West and need an experienced Realtor. consider contacting me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

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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.