January weather and light are perfect for exploring the unique charms of the Southernmost City at the end of the road.
The Old Island Restoration Foundation has its next round of home tours from 3 to 7 p.m. Jan. 12 and 13 in Key West. The Conch Train trolley can transport you to five private homes that represent five different architectural styles, neighborhoods and eras. Or wander your way through at your own pace. The houses:
▪ 618 Free School Lane.
Still a “secret” garden site, a less-than-historic cabin has metamorphosed into a winged, post-modern residence. Luxurious finishes and glamorous decor shine in any light; the interior could serve as a stage set for re-filming a classic movie in black and white. Start your tour at the sunken swimming pool.
▪ 626 Grinnell St.
“Victorian” covers many styles; the porch wrapping around the corner evokes that era in this home. It’s a great place to catch a breeze at this quiet location near the cemetery. During the post-World War I years, the home was almost doubled in size. Recent renovations make that added space live better while retaining the antique character within the front section.
▪ 1318 Newton St.
A brick fireplace chimney and corner entry porch suggest an English cottage, a style popular after World War I. If the day is cool, the hearth may not seem so out of place. Inside and poolside, the designer/owner has decorated the home in the true eclectic spirit of Key West, including refurbished curbside finds.
▪ 1716 Seminary St.
This neighborhood qualifies as a post-World War II “suburb.” The modern house designed for maximum fresh air and outdoor living commands a 10,000-square-foot parcel. Over the years, the lot has been filled in with a guest house, a tiki hut, a lap-worthy pool and a lush garden, all cloaked by a wall.
▪ 1308 Reynolds St.
This circa 1900 Bahamian-style cottage was built at what was then the south edge of town. Over the decades, it has been much expanded. A 1996 rehabilitation augmented the warm wood interior and enhanced the tropical forest feel.
Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 on tour days. Homes can be seen in any order and viewings may be split over two evenings. The route is under three miles and suitable for bikes; remember that bike lights are required after sunset. Or you can take the Conch Train that boards at the Oldest House, 322 Duval St. Tour tickets with transport are sold in advance for $40.
For credit card purchase, buy tickets online at www.oirf.org or call (305) 294-9501. Tickets are also available for purchase at the Oldest House. During tour hours, tickets will be sold at the featured houses (cash or check only).
The Old Island Restoration Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of architectural treasures in Key West and the recognition of the historical achievements of the island.