Marathon history to be preserved

A historic house once owned by Marathon's first schoolteacher, Sue M. Moore, may soon be relocated -- if the city is willing to finance the move.

The house, at 2109 Overseas Highway, across from the U.S. Coast Guard station, was most recently used as an office building for Sea Air Land Technologies. The one-acre property has been vacant since SALT owner Bob Williams sold it to Marathon Boat Yard owner Bruce Popham.

Popham said he needs to clear room for a new 10,000-square foot West Marine store, on which construction is scheduled to begin in February or March 2009. He has offered to donate the house to Crane Point Hammock.

"They were not in a financial position to be able to deal with it," Popham said. "Because of the historic nature, I thought the best thing was to put it in a position where people can use it."

Popham then spoke to Councilman Pete Worthington, who brought the idea forward at Monday's regular City Council meeting. The council directed staff to find out whether the house is sound enough to be moved, possible locations for it and what the cost would be to move it.

Worthington said Crane Point would be an ideal location for the house."Crane Point has a lot of acreage; it's a history museum and would make a great location," Worthington said. He also mentioned Pigeon Key as a possible destination.

The house was built using Dade County pine and still sits on its original foundations, Williams said.

"It's going to last a long time because the wood is so hard now," Williams said, adding the home sits on coral rock and concrete pilings.

According to Middle Keys historian Dan Gallagher, Moore came to Marathon in 1931 with husband Sam Murray Moore at the age of 56. She taught there until damage from the 1935 hurricane season caused the Monroe County School Board to close the Marathon school.

Moore then taught on Big Pine Key, taking a ferry each Monday with Marathon's two eligible students and spending the week there before returning with them on Friday. Moore even taught as far south as Summerland Key before a school was built in Marathon in the early 1940s.

In November 1946, the School Board allocated $23,000 to build a new schoolhouse. The city's first real school building, it was named the Sue Moore School. Moore taught one year there before retiring in 1947.

That old school is now a state Department of Transportation yard.