Sep 072011

In the late 1800’s Key West was a mess. So a bunch of people got together and decided to redesign and rebuild the city. One of the results was a a variety of buildings known as gingerbread homes. Ranging from small dwellings to full fledged hotels, each building was unique. One of the features of each of these structures was intricate wood work on the front of the building. The designs were unique to each place and frequent indicated the business of the people who lived there. Many of these homes still stand to day and are an important part of Key West history. Many of the buildings are on the national register of historic homes and renovations must meet strict guidelines to maintain the uniqueness of each one.
In today’s world of cookie cutter army barracks style developments run by over bearing power hungry home owners associations who will take you to court over the wrong shade of white paint on your soffit and fascia, these homes stand out as a reminder of when this country had some real character. Most of these homes are in the old town section of the island, tucked away on back streets and alleys. If you are ever on the island take a day, rent a bike, and search them out. It’s a nice refreshing change from the hustle of the tourists areas.
For the next few months I will feature some of these homes here on the Fritter.
First up: The Speakeasy. Located on Duval Street, it used to be a place to get a drink during prohibition. Downstairs was a speakeasy. Upstairs a small gambling hall.


Look closely at the gingerbread. Can you spot the hearts and spades? (Or they may be diamonds) How about the whiskey bottles?


You can still get a drink there today. Not sure about the gambling though.

The Fritter

  2 Responses to “Key West Gingerbread houses…”

  1. so cool! looking forward to your tour of the houses.
    sadly… i live in a cookie cutter neighborhood.
    i so admire individuality. you’re right about the greed.
    tammy j

    • The home owners associations, aside from being wrapped up in their own little power trip, partly deter individuality under the assumption that it will lower surrounding property values.
      No two homes I will be featuring are identical and they all have value in the 6 and 7 figure range. Sure, location is key, but look at these places and then look at the army barracks that pass for houses these days. No reason this same concept couldn’t be applied to any housing development if the governing powers would get their heads out of their asses.
      The workmanship and design of these places is unmatched anywhere else in the country.

      The Fritter