In the past living on a small island far from the mainland, Key West residents could not be wasteful with what they had.
Structures, building materials and furnishings were reused long before the creation of the historic district. Many current denizens are still inspired by those frugal predecessors. Even in these days of on-line shopping, overnight delivery and aspiring to luxury, many choose to cherish the old.
Homes on the Jan. 13 and 14 Old Island Restoration Foundation house tours can be viewed as recycling outside the bin. The tours are from 4 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 on tour days. Homes can be seen in any order and viewings may be split over the two evenings. The route is suitable for bikes.
The featured homes:
▪ 920 Fleming St. This is a 1907 house that retains its original spindlework and gingerbread outside. There are high wood walls and fluted woodwork trim inside. A Hibiscus Lane cottage has been retooled as its cozy, well-equipped guests’ quarters.
▪ 5 Hunts Lane. The laborers who lived along a footpath around 1904 would not find it too hard to recognize their humble abodes. But this one grew an extra floor around World War II. Nevertheless, most of the cozy old cottage is intact and its continued existence represents the handiwork of its resourceful owners.
▪ 1401 Albury St. Craftsman bungalow was the “new” style when this house was built. It is another early renovation from the 1980s that saved the old rather than reproducing it. Although its face and interior finish remain the same, the main living space was opened to a poolside garden.
▪ 1219 Pearl St. Sometime around 1915, this Gothic cottage was erected on what still was considered the edge of town. The biggest exterior alteration since then was enclosing one side of the wrap-around porch to add bathrooms.
▪ 1306 Laird St. Land has long been in limited supply. This lot was wetlands before World War II. Dredge spoils reused as fill added acreage for modest housing.
For credit-card purchase of tickets, go to www.oirf.org or call (305) 294-9501. Tickets are also available for purchase by check or cash at Capital Bank at 3618 N. Roosevelt Blvd. and 700 Front St. in Key West, mile marker 30.4 on Big Pine Key and 2348 Overseas Highway in Marathon; Royal Furniture at 3326 N. Roosevelt Blvd.; and the Oldest House, 322 Duval St. During tour hours, tickets will be sold at the featured houses (cash or check).
Tickets are also available at www.oirf.org. Other house tours are Feb. 17 and 18 and March 17 and 18.