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Monroe

PHILIP L. COSGROVE HOUSE, 1872
Location:321 Whitehead Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Captain Philip L. Cosgrove, Sr., commanded the U. S. lighthouse tender Mangrove, the first rescue ship to aid victims of the 1898 explosion of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor. This house, acquired by Cosgrove in 1871, incorporates remnants of federal judge James Locke’s one-story residence. In order to accommodate his growing family, Cosgrove paid $1,600 to enlarge the house to 2 1/2-stories. Remodeled in the Greek Revival style, it featured a gabled roof with jig-cut balusters and decorative scrolls at the tops of the square columns. Adaptations to the Key West climate were also incorporated, including a cistern under the floor with fish to help keep water fresh and keep out mosquitos. Cosgrove served in the Lighthouse Service until 1906, when his son, Phillip, Jr., took over his command. Three generations of the Cosgrove family occupied the house until 1947, when the house was acquired by William Gamble (1916-1976), a local jeweler and Key West city commissioner. Following Gamble’s death, the house was converted in 1978 into a resort. The Cosgrove House reflects Key West’s unique Conch architectural style, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Key West Historic District.
TAVERNIER
Location:Mile marker 91.5 US 1
County: Monroe
City: Tavernier
Description: Side One: What is today Tavernier was originally inhabited by the Calusa and Tequesta Native Americans. The Tequesta occupied the area around Biscayne Bay, while the Calusa inhabited Southwest Florida. In 1513, the Florida Keys were discovered and mapped by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León who named the islands Los Martires (“The Martyrs”), as they looked like suffering men from a distance. During Florida’s First Spanish Period, the Keys remained isolated from imperial administration, as Spain focused its colonial efforts in Central and South America. In 1774, British cartographer Bernard Romans created a detailed map of the Keys, including Tavernier, which he mapped as Key Tabona. The Tavernier vicinity offered a favorable anchorage for Bahamian fisherman and wreckers due to its location near the hazardous Carysfort Reef. All of Tavernier’s earliest settlers originated in the Bahamas. No settlement occurred in Tavernier during Florida’s Territorial Period, although Key West began to grow as sponging, turtling, and wrecking became prominent in the economy of the Lower Keys. Side Two: The Tavernier community began in the late 1800s on the oceanfront at Planter, located northeast of the present town center. This small settlement grew up around the Samuel Johnson farm, and a post office was established here in 1891. Surrounded by water, the community used both land and sea resources, and was served by sailing vessels such as the Island Home which was once captained by Samuel Williams. Products and passengers were carried from here to and from ports on the mainland to Key West. By 1895, the remainder of oceanfront Tavernier had been homesteaded by founders Robert Albury and Amos Lowe. Hurricanes, a pineapple blight, and new development around the F.E.C. Railroad contributed to the decline of Planter. Planter’s post office closed in 1910, and a Tavernier post office opened near the railroad depot in 1911. In 1928, Hubert S. “Mac” McKenzie moved to Tavernier. He began a gradual development of commercial enterprises in the town providing services, supplies, and employment. Many of those businesses and descendents of Tavernier’s founding families still remain in the town. Much of Tavernier’s center has been designated a historic district by Monroe County to help preserve it.
Sponsors: The Historic Florida Keys Foundation, Inc., and the Florida Department of State
MARTIN HELLINGS HOUSE/ KEY WEST WOMAN'S CLUB
Location:319 Duval Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: The Martin Hellings House, constructed c.1892 by Captain Martin L. Hellings, is one of only a few historic houses in Key West not built of wood. Hellings was a native of Pennsylvania and a Union soldier in the Civil War. In 1881, Hellings married Eleanor Curry, daughter of a prominent Key West merchant family. In 1888, he became cable manager of the International Ocean Telegraph Company in Key West, an important position at the time, as telegraphs were the only means of rapid long distance communication. Before and during the Spanish American War, he operated an intelligence service for the U.S. Government and provided the White House War Room with the latest news from Cuba. After Martin Hellings’ death in 1908, the house was converted into professional offices, and for many years housed the offices of Judge W. Hunt Harris. The Key West Woman's Club (KWWC), established in 1915, purchased the building in 1940. The KWWC founded and maintained Key West’s first public library in this building. The KWWC continues its mission of volunteer service and financial support to local non-profits while preserving this Queen Anne style brick mansion for future generations.
Sponsors: Key West Woman's Club
1st U.S. FLAG OVER KEY WEST
Location:Mallory Square, in front of Waterfront Playhouse
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Under orders from the Navy Department issued on February 7, 1822, Lt. Matthew C. Perry proceeded to Key West aboard his ship, the United States Schooner Shark, to survey the island and harbor and officially declare it part of the newly acquired territory of Florida. On March 25, 1822, Perry landed his crew and in the presence of the inhabitants raised the American standard formally proclaiming United States sovereignty over this island and the Florida Keys.
Sponsors: Key West Art and Historical Society in Cooperation with Department of State
AFRICAN CEMETERY AT HIGGS BEACH
Location:Atlantic Blvd, Near White St.
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Near this site lie the remains of 294 African men, women and children who died in Key West in 1860. In the summer of that year the U.S. Navy rescued 1,432 Africans from three American-owned ships engaged in the illegal slave trade. Ships bound for Cuba were intercepted by the U.S. Navy, who brought the freed Africans to Key West where they were provided with clothing, shelter and medical treatment. They had spent weeks in unsanitary and inhumane conditions aboard the slave ships. The U.S. steamships Mohawk, Wyandott and Crusader rescued these individuals from the Wildfire, where 507 were rescued; the William, where 513 were rescued; and the Bogota, where 417 survived. In all, 294 Africans succumbed at Key West to various diseases caused by conditions of their confinement. They were buried in unmarked graves on the present day Higgs Beach where West Martello Tower now stands. By August, more than 1,000 survivors left for Liberia, West Africa, a country founded for former American slaves, where the U.S. government supported them for a time. Hundreds died on the ships before reaching Liberia. Thus, the survivors were returned to their native land, Africa, but not to their original homes on that continent.
Sponsors: OLD ISLAND RESTORATION FOUNDATION AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
CONVENT OF MARY IMMACULATE - (1878)
Location:Truman Avenue between Simonton and Margaret Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Built by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a Canadian Order which first established a school here in 1868. Designed by William Kerr of Ireland, of Romanesque style, with dormered, mansard roofs and central tower. In the Spanish- American war the Sisters offered their services as nurses and the Convent to the Navy as a hospital and rendered devoted service to the wounded and yellow fever victims.
FIRST TRAIN TO KEY WEST
Location:Storage
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: At 9:43 a.m., January 22, 1912, 15,000 citizens of Key West, many of whom had never seen a train, stood here watched the arrival of five cars carrying the Henry M. Flagler party. This signaled the completion of the overseas extension of Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway. Flagler was given a tumultuous reception and that day several more trains arrived with celebrities, including Florida Governor Albert Gilchrist. The celebration lasted days and brought Flagler praise from around the world.
FLORIDA EAST COAST RAILROAD OVERSEAS EXTENSION - "THE RAILROAD THAT WENT TO SEA"
Location:on U.S. 1 between Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys
County: Monroe
City: Florida Keys
Description: Oil magnate Henry M. Flagler first visited Florida in 1878. Realizing Florida's potential for growth, he developed railroads and hotels which transformed the eastern seaboard. The Florida East Coast Railroad reached Miami in 1896 and soon was completed to the Homestead area. Years of planning were devoted to determining the feasibility of extending the F.E.C. Railroad to Key West which was labeled "Flagler's Folly." Construction was begun in 1904 under the supervision of Joseph C. Meredith. After Meredith's death in 1909, William J. Krome guided the project. Viaducts, trestles, and bridges were constructed under harrowing conditions. Thousands of workers battled against insects, hurricanes, and intense heat as well as food and water shortages. On January 21, 1912, the Overseas Extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad was completed. The next day, Henry Flagler's special train arrived in Key West. Flagler died in 1913, but his Overseas Extension continued to carry visitors to Key West until 1935, when the Labor Day hurricane damaged the line beyond repair. A portion of the Overseas Extension near Tea Table Key was among the surviving remnants of this great engineering project which helped to open the Florida Keys to tourism.
Sponsors: sponsored by senator richard r. renick in cooperation with department of state
KEY WEST CEMETERY
Location:Passover Ln near Angela St.
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Key West Cemetery was founded in 1847 following a hurricane the previous year that destroyed the earlier cemetery located near present day Higgs Beach. To protect from future flooding, the 19-acre cemetery was located here on Solares Hill, the highest natural elevation in Key West. An estimated 75,000 people are interred here, divided among parcels that reflect the cultural diversity that continues to characterize the city of Key West today. The cemetery contains a historic Catholic section, Jewish section, the U.S.S. Maine Plot dedicated in 1900, and the Los Martires de Cuba, a memorial for those who fought in the 1868 Cuban revolution. In addition to these defined areas, African Americans, Cubans and Americans, rich and poor, are interred throughout. In-ground and crypt style graves range from simple concrete copings filled with soil to elaborate monuments. Plot enclosures of wrought iron, wood, or concrete were often used to mark family plots.
Sponsors: HISTORIC FLORIDA KEYS FOUNDATION, THE CITY OF KEY WEST AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
KEY WEST, SOUTH FLORIDA'S OLDEST CITY
Location:Duval & Front Sts.
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: The first owner of Cayo Hueso, now Key West, was Juan P. Salas of St. Augustine who received it as a Spanish grant in 1815. In Havana, on December 20, 1821, Salas sold the island to an American businessman, John W. Simonton, for $2,000. Simonton and associates sent a party of men with supplies to the island and on January 19, 1822, took possession of it establishing the first permanent community in South Florida.
Sponsors: Old Island Restoration Foundation in Cooperation with Department of State
LONG KEY FISHING CLUB
Location:U.S. 1 at Mile Marker 65.8
County: Monroe
City: Long Key
Description: Side 1: Henry M. Flagler began construction on the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad southward from Homestead in 1905. Despite destructive hurricanes in 1906, 1909, and 1910, the Key West Extension was completed in January 1912 at a cost of $49 million. With completion of Long Key Viaduct, the first bridge built on the line and the trademark of the East Coast Railroad, Flagler's East Coast Hotel Company established the Long Key Fishing Club in 1906. This "Garden of Eden" soon became the mecca for the world's greatest saltwater anglers. Side 2: Zane Grey, writer and pioneer of Florida Keys fishing, was president of the exclusive Long Key Fishing Club which consisted of the Lodge, decorated with matchless displays of mounted Florida game fish, guest cottages and storehouses. The accommodations and service were of the highest quality. One of the principal aims of the Club was the cessation of wholesale destruction of game fish species. Because of his leadership and contributions to the development of Long Key, the crystal clear stream running in from the Atlantic to the boundaries of this park was named Zane Grey Creek. On September 2, 1935, a hurricane swept the Florida Keys destroying the Long Key Fishing Club and ending operation of the Key West Extension.
Sponsors: Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials
OLD CITY HALL
Location:510 Greene Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: The City of Key West acquired this lot in 1871 and built a wood-frame city hall, dedicating it on July 4, 1876, during the nation’s Centennial. That building stood until it burned down in the devastating fire of 1886. The City then constructed this brick edifice between 1890 and 1892. Scott, McDermott & Higgs designed the structure, while Russell & Harvey built it. The ground floor - with wide arches and supporting columns - accommodated market stalls, then fire engines. The upper floor, dominated by the City Commission chambers, also housed City offices. Over the years, the building was altered, including the removal of the bell tower. Monroe County acquired the property in 1965 to house its juvenile court. In 1974, the State of Florida acquired the building, and the Historic Florida Keys Preservation Board spearheaded its restoration. The bell tower was restored in 1976 during the Bicentennial. Restoration efforts continued through the 1980’s, leading to the rededication of Old City Hall in 1991. Sweeping granite stairs and an ornate iron balustrade distinguish the building’s entrance, while high ceilings, large windows, and wainscoting grace the historic interior.
Sponsors: THE HISTORIC FLORIDA KEYS FOUNDATION AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PORTER'S ANTI-PIRATE FLEET
Location:625 Truman Ave.
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: An outbreak of piracy in 1822 prompted the United States to organize the West Indian Squadron, an anti-pirate fleet. Commanded by Commodore David Porter, the Squadron in 1823 included 17 ships and 1,100 men based in Key West. For two years the fleet attacked many of the estimated 2,000 pirates in the Indies. In 1825, after Porter was removed from command, Commodore Lewis Warrington continued the assault. Altogether 79 pirates were taken by U.S. ships.
SOUTH FLORIDA'S FIRST PUBLIC LIBRARY
Location:700 Fleming Street - Monroe County Public Library
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: On April 8, 1892, a group of citizens organized the Key West Library Association. The first public library was open in the old Masonic Temple September 15, 1892. After 1896, the operation was assumed by other civic groups, including the Key West Woman's Club, which for 44 years provided library service. Through the group's efforts, funds were raised to build the Monroe County Public Library which opened in November, 1959.
Sponsors: Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials in Cooperation with Monroe County Public Library and The Florida Historical Society
ST. PAUL'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH - (1832)
Location:401 Duval Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Oldest in Florida diocese, the present church (1912) is the fourth on this site. John Fleming, one of the four original owners of the island, is buried here. His widow donated the property, stipulating that the church pews be free. Rectory built 1853. The chimes, first installed in a Florida church, were originally in a frame church (1886) destroyed in 1909 hurricane.
THE TRUMAN LITTLE WHITE HOUSE
Location:111 Front Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Built in 1890 as quarters for Navy officers, the Little White House later was used by American Presidents William Howard Taft, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Truman used the facility as a vacation home and functioning White House between 1946 and 1952. National legislation was drafted and official government business was conducted daily from the site. Perhaps the most important of these actions occurred on December 5, 1951, when Truman enacted a Civil Rights Executive Order requiring federal contractors to hire minorities. The house is considered the birthplace of the U. S. Department of Defense and the U. S. Air Force as a result of the Key West Accords of 1948. President Eisenhower used the site in 1956 while recuperating from a heart attack. In 1961, the house was the venue for a summit between President Kennedy and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan during the Bay of Pigs incident. Kennedy returned in 1962 after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Secretary of State Colin Powell and foreign leaders held an international summit here in 2001. The Little White House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Sponsors: THE KEY WEST HARRY S. TRUMAN FOUNDATION, HISTORIC TOURS OF AMERICA, INC., AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
TREE COLONY - BAHIA HONDA KEY
Location:Old Bahia Honda Bridge, near dock. Bahia Honda State Recreation Area.
County: Monroe
City: Bahia Honda Key
Description: Since about 1870, botanists from all over the world have been visiting Bahia Honda Key to study the plants brought here by the birds, the hurricane winds, and the ocean waves from all the islands of the West Indies and the Caribbean Sea. The very rare plants that are found growing as a native plant only on Bahia Honda Key are the West Indies satinwood, or yellowwood tree (Zanthoxylum flavum), the Catesbaea, Jamaica morning-glory (Jaquemontia jamaicensis), and wild dilly (Mimusops). Beautiful and colorful plants from the West Indies known in the Keys and South Florida areas are the Geiger tree (orange flowers), wild Alamanda (yellow flowers), sea-lavender (fragrant white flowers and ash-gray leaves), key spiderlily (white flowers), bay cedar (yellow flower), and the thatch and silver palms.
Sponsors: Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials
WILLIAM CURRY'S SONS - (Founded 1845 as Bowne & Curry)
Location:3501 South Roosevelt Boulevard, East Fort Martello Tower Museum
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Built after fire of 1886 by Thomas Russell for William Curry, ship chandler, merchant, private banker, owner of wrecking schooners and clippership Stephen R. Mallory. Born in Bahama Islands in 1821. Came to Key West in 1837. Curry died in 1896, reputedly the richest man in Florida. Attained his wealth by hard work and shrewd investments in ships and in the New York Stock Market.
FORT TAYLOR
Location:601 Howard England Way, Fort Zachery Taylor Historic State Park
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Fort Taylor was constructed in 1845 as part of the Third Tier System of Defense which called for the establishment of masonry fortresses constructed along America’s coastline to prevent Sea attacks on the United States. This fort was an important defensive structure in the United States because of its command over the waters over the Straits of Florida and of the Gulf of Mexico. When completed, the fort was three stories tall, held and 140 cannon and was home to almost 450 soldiers. Fort Taylor remained under federal control during the Civil War and was the headquarters of the US Navy East Gulf Coast Blockading Squadron. The current form of the fort is largely the result of alterations made in 1898, including the removal of the upper two tiers, filling case-mates with sand and obsolete ordinance, and construction of modern rifled artillery emplacements Battery Adair and Battery Osceola. Fort Taylor continued to defend the United States during the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II. The Fort’s service to the nation ended in 1947. Fort Taylor is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Historic National Landmark.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the Florida Park Service and the Florida Department of State
KEY WEST ARMORY
Location:600 White Street, Key West
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: This 1903 armory was described as "an unusual wood-frame building," and was one of the few armories built in the South due to lack of funds following the Civil War (1861-1865). The Italianate-style. Key West Armory incorporate an aarched entrace, twin, six-sided pointed turrets, a tall parapet as well as towers and cupolas. Key West was an important Union Base during the Civil War. Volunteer troops that helped defend Key West from the Confederates were known as the Key West Rifles and then, in 1888 as the Island City Guards. The Armory was built for their descendants, the Monroe County Militia / 438th Company Florida National Guard. It housed these troops and their armament. The Armory served as a training facility in World Wards I and II and later became a community center. Monroe County contracted John T. and A. Bruce Sawyer to build the Armory in 1902, as designed by T.F. Russell. The State of Florida later refunded the money, which was used to build County Road, now known as Flagler Avenue. Restoration efforts began in the 1970s prior to the building's lease to Monroe County. Management of the state-owned armory was turned over to the Historic Florida Keys Preservation Board in 1994.
Sponsors: Sponsored by the Historic Florida Keys Foundation and the Florida Department of State.
EVERGLADES COMMUNITY CHURCH
Location:101 Copeland Ave S
County: Monroe
City: Everglades
Description: This building was completed by April 1940 on land donated in May 1939 by the estate of Barron Gift Collier, founder of the county which bears his name and its largest landholder. The congregation at that time was Presbyterian, officially established in 1926, and had met in various places in the city. Before then, various visiting pastors served the area, the first being the Reverend George W. Gatewood in 1888. One condition of the gift of land was that the structure be erected before October 1, 1940 and that the church be non-denominational. Both conditions were met when the dedication ceremony took place on May 5th, 1940. The town was a Collier company town with buildings constructed of ship lap siding, a tin roof, and flooring made of Dade County pine. A fellowship hall and breezeway to the southwest was added in the late 1950s. The digital carillon was installed in 1990 and chimes hourly. On September 4, 2007, Everglades City proclaimed the church to be historically preserved because it “provides links with the aspirations and attainments of the City’s pioneers and their descendents.” The bell tower and narthex were repaired in June, 2008, as the first step in a complete restoration of the building.
Sponsors: SPONSORED BY EVERGLADES CITY AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
E.H. GATO CIGAR FACTORY
Location:1100 Simonton St.
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: The Gato Cigar Factory was constructed by Eduardo H. Gato in 1916. This Neo-Classiscal Revival, poured- concrete structure with a large central courtyard was constructed after a earlier wood frame factory on this site burned. Numerous windows provided much needed light for the workers. It is also one of the earliest American integrated workplaces where Cuban, African, and Bahamian- Americans, and whites worked side by side while their children attended the same school. Small cottages were built near the factory to house the workers, and became an area known as Gatoville. The factory was a political center as workers raised funds to support efforts to free Cuba from Spain. The cigar industry was critical to Key West’s economy just before the 20th century, but declined in the early 1900’s as cigar manufacturers moved to Tampa. In 1942 the Gato factory was sold to the Department of the Navy for use as a military barracks and cafeteria, and later served as the Navy Commissary until 1989. In 1998 Monroe County Obtained the property, and in 2001 completed a rehabilitation to make the building
Sponsors: The Historic Florida Keys Foundation and the Florida Department of State
THE PATTERSON-BALDWIN HOUSE
Location:336 Duval Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Built about 1838 and moved to this location after the hurricane of 1846, The Patterson-Baldwin House in believed to be one of the oldest buildings in Key West. The Classical Revival style house is reputed to have been built, but never occupied by Alexander Patterson, a prominent Key West citizen and mayor. Various sources indicate that the Pickney family lived in the house and that Mrs. Pickney’s sister Madame Passaloque, taught classes here until 1860, giving the huse the distinction of being he first school in Key West. John Baldwin, who twice served as mayor of Key West, purchased the house in 1860. The property remained in the Baldwin family for more than 100 years. The house was painstakingly restored by Edward B. Knight in 1962. At first only the houses front side was restored to provide a “before and after” picture of how it could one day look. This award winning demonstration received national publicity and helped spark the historic preservation movement in Key West.
Sponsors: Sponsored by Edward B. Knight and the Florida Department of State.
STAINED GLASS WINDOWS OF ST. COLUMBIA EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Location:451 52nd Street Gulf
County: Monroe
City: Marathon
Description: Established in 1955, St. Columba Episcopal Church has occupied this building since 1960. Between 1977 and 1982, nineteen dalle de verre, or faceted stained glass windows, were installed in the church. This technique uses thick pieces of colored glass bound together with a cement or epoxy mixture. French artist Auguste Labouret is credited with creating the first dalle de verre windows in the 1930s. One of his first panels, “The Magi,” was displayed at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Studios in the United States began manufacturing dalle de verre windows in the 1940s, and faceted glass became popular afterwards. Like medieval stained glass, dalle de verre windows produce stunning visual effects. However, their technique precludes the creation of detailed and realistic images. Instead, faceted glass lends itself to bold, more abstract treatments. St. Columba’s stained glass windows offer a symbolic and impressionistic portrayal of the Seven Days of Creation and the life of Christ. The church’s St. Columba window pictures the Irish missionary St. Columba, while the Loch Ness Monster window depicts the beast that, according to legend, St. Columba prevented from devouring a swimmer.
Sponsors: St. Columba Episcopal Church and the Florida Department of State
JEWFISH CREEK BRIDGE
Location:x
County: Monroe
City: Key Largo
Description: A swing span bridge once crossed Jewfish Creek just beyond this location. Early in the construction of Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railway from the Mainland to Key West, Jewfish Creek was identified as a critical site along the route. In 1905, beginning at the Miami Terminal Docks, a supply line running south transported supplies from Biscayne Bay to Jewfish Creek. To complete the dredge and fill needed to build the railway between Homestead and the Keys, a pair of excavators started from Homestead and moved southwest towards Jewfish Creek, while another pair from Key Largo moved toward them in the opposite direction. By December 9, 1906, tracks from Homestead to Jewfish Creek were completed. The steel deck girder swing span bridge was assembled at the Miami Terminal Docks and was completed in December 1906. The bridge was shipped down the railway for installation at Jewfish Creek, and by early February 1907, it was fully operational. Several railway-related buildings were located at Jewfish Creek, including an agent’s house, telegraph station, and laborers’ houses. The swing bridge was replaced by a bascule bridge in 1944, which was replaced by the current bridge in 2008.
Sponsors: The Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Department of State
EDUARDO H. GATO HOUSE
Location:1327 Duval Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: This house, with its elaborate Queen Anne style detailing, was built c. 1894 by E.H. Gato, Sr. (1847-1926). The Gato family was one of Key West’s most prominent families, and three generations of the family lived here until 1951. Eduardo H. Gato was a Cuban patriot who helped finance Cuba’s revolutionary leaders including Jose Marti, who fought for freedom from Spain. Gato came to Key West in 1874. He was instrumental in Key West’s evolution from a small fishing town to one of Florida’s wealthiest cities through his development of the Cuban tobacco industry. He built Key West’s foremost cigar factory, where millions of cigars, using tobacco imported from Cuba, were hand rolled and boxed for shipment worldwide. In 1917, he built the first fireproof cigar factory on Simonton Street and constructed a nearby “city” of frame cigar workers’ cottages, the Barrio de Gato, or Gatoville. Gato was president of the E.H. Gato Cigar Co.; vice-president of the Key West Bank; and proprietor of the Key West Street Car, a horse-drawn system. Eduardo H. Gato Jr. (1874-1948) served as vice-president of the E.H. Gato Cigar Company and oversaw the extensive Gato real estate holdings.
Sponsors: The Santiago Family and the Florida Department of State
WILLIAM LOWE DELANEY/ THEODORE HOLTSBERG HOUSE
Location:323 Whitehead Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: Connecticut mariner and wrecker Benjamin Sawyer built the first house on this property by 1844. From 1888-1890, much of Key West’s port business took place in Sawyer’s home, until the completion of the federal Custom House. Key West native and Deputy Custom Collector William Lowe Delaney (1863-1917) acquired the property from Sawyer’s widow and built this ornate Queen Anne Revival residence by 1906. The house featured a two-story verandah, pavilion tower, and an asymmetrical floor plan. Following Delaney’s death, a circuit court ruling in 1918 transferred ownership of the mortgaged property to Lavinia Artolozaga for $3,551. The property was sold again in 1925 for $7,000 to Romanian immigrant Theodore Holtsberg (1857-1928), one of the island’s first Jewish residents. He was an entrepreneur whose fashion store was a local landmark, and was an active member in the island’s Jewish community. The historic Delaney/Holtsberg residence was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 as a contributing building in the Key West Historic District. In addition, it was selected as one of the thirty-eight architecturally significant Key West structures by the Milo Smith Survey of Historic Buildings in 1974.
NAVAL DEPOT AND STOREHOUSE; BUILDING ONE; U.S. COAST GUARD HEADQUARTERS
Location:291 Front Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: On September 13, 1833, the United States government purchased this harbor-front lot. The Naval Depot was authorized by an Act of Congress on July 21, 1852. Capt. J. M. Scarritt and Lt. J. J. Philbrick supervised the construction of this building. By 1856 the brick walls were laid in common bond pattern, and the roof was completed in 1861. During the Civil War, the Union’s West Indies Blockade Squadron was headquartered here. Distinguished by a buttressed brick pier arcade of 17 bays, the Naval Depot retains its original lookout cupola, masonry exterior, gable roof, and interior loft space. Known as Building Number One, it served as the Naval Administration Building until 1932. On December 15, 1932, the offices of the 7th Lighthouse District opened in this building. By 1939 the Lighthouse Service, as part of the U.S. Coast Guard, continued to use the Naval Depot as its Key West Station headquarters. In recognition of its significance in America’s military history through the Civil War, Spanish-American War and two world wars, the Naval Depot and Storehouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and remains Key West’s oldest brick structure.
Sponsors: Building One Key West, LLC
STATE ROAD 4A
Location:Florida Keys Heritage Trail, NE access from US 1
County: Monroe
City: Summerland Key
Description: The first Overseas Highway, also known as State Road 4A (SR 4A), consisted of two roadway segments both completed by 1928. One spanned from Key West to No Name Key, and the other from Key Largo to Upper Matecumbe Key. Ferries transported cars between the segments. The roads were constructed of local rock and marl. In the 1930s, World War I veterans were sent as part of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration to work on bridges to close the gap, but construction was cut short when the 1935 Labor Day hurricane claimed the lives of more than 400 workers and their families. The catastrophe sparked debate over whether to rebuild the Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway or the highway. Monroe County opted for the highway, and the railway’s Bahia Honda Bridge was converted for automotive use. In 1938, a toll road linked Lower Matecumbe to Big Pine Keys and created the first continuous road from Miami to Key West. During World War II, the Overseas Highway moved from SR 4A to a new alignment using the FEC’s straighter route. The new highway connected with US 1 and most of SR 4A was abandoned or became local streets. The section of SR 4A located north of this point, is part of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.
Sponsors: Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
UNITED STATES WEATHER BUREAU
Location:57 Front Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: On February 9, 1870, a joint Congressional resolution authorized a national weather service. As one of the original observation stations, Key West was critical for weather forecasters. The Department of Agriculture purchased this lot in 1903 on the Key West Naval Station (1823-1974) to construct a new office for the U.S. Weather Bureau. Designed by architect Frank H. Jackson, the Classical Revival structure was completed in 1912. The building housed weather observers and rain gauges to report temperatures and storm warnings to the public. Daily marine bulletin broadcasts began in 1913. By 1921 telegraph, cable, and wireless reports provided data to the nation's meteorological services. Transferred to the Department of Commerce in 1940, the Key West Weather Bureau provided observations and hurricane warnings for the Caribbean area. By 1940 the Weather Bureau had played a key role in America’s aviation and commerce. The Navy purchased the property in 1950 for use as Quarters T, housing female personnel. After the base closed in 1974, private owners began preservation efforts. The Weather Bureau building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and restored in 1990.
Sponsors: The Florida Department of State
MILTON W. CURRY HOUSE, WILLIAM CURRY HOMESTEAD
Location:511 Caroline Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: William J. Curry, born on Green Turtle Key in the Bahamas in 1821, immigrated to Key West in 1837. Curry homesteaded this lot in 1852 and was Key West’s leading merchant for forty years. Wm. Curry Sons’ maritime business amassed a fortune during the Spanish-American War building ships, salvaging wrecks, operating a ship chandlery, and erecting wharves. Curry was reportedly Key West’s wealthiest citizen and Florida’s first millionaire. Following Curry’s death in 1896, this Georgian Revival house was erected in 1905 for $13,000 by Curry’s youngest son and business heir, Milton. The house incorporated the original kitchen hearth from the 1860s Curry dwelling and was likely built using mail order plans from architect George Franklin Barber, who supplied designs to affluent American businessmen. Distinguishing features include the original layout, two-story verandas, lavish detailing, fireplaces, a carved wood staircase, and a Tiffany window. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 as part of the Key West Historic District, the house was purchased by Albert & Edith Amsterdam who began restoration efforts in 1976. The Milton W. Curry House is a symbol of Key West’s twentieth century wealth.
Sponsors: Amsterdam's Curry Mansion Inn
ALEXANDER CRUZ/ JULIA GARDNER HOUSE
Location:403 East Street
County: Monroe
City: Key West
Description: The cigar industry of Key West dates from 1831, when the first cigar factory was established. After the 1868 Cuban War of Independence, Key West’s cigar manufacturing industry boomed, reaching its zenith at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1885, Cuban-born Dolores Fernandez de Cruz purchased this corner lot from Bahamian pioneer William Saunders, who lived here from 1850 to 1880. The Cruz Brothers, Andres, Alexander, and Jose, erected a three-story cigar factory on this site by 1889, providing a business and residence for the family. In 1900, Alexander Cruz bought the factory. He built this 2 1/2 story Neoclassical home on this site circa 1904. The house and lot are significant for their link to the Cuban cigar industry in Key West, which contributed to the island’s economic preeminence at the turn of the century. Julia Gardner, daughter of Richard Henry Albury, one of the island’s most prosperous land owners, purchased the residence in 1918 and owned it for 30 years. Due to its distinctive form, proportion, materials, siting, and architectural details, the Alexander Cruz House contributes to the Key West Historic District.
Sponsors: The Banyan Time Share Resort