Key West ~ Southernmost Paradise

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Key West, Florida photo

Joining in on Marianne of East of Malaga’s One Trip Every Month Challenge, come with us as we walk the quiet side streets of Old Key West admiring the “Conch” architecture and the lush tropical vegetation that surrounds each abode. Dating back to the 1900s and earlier,  these homes are a mixture of styles that have several features in common: metal roofing, gable porches with lattice and or gingerbread trim, and perhaps a cupola or turret. Oh, and an abundance of white fences. All in all, it adds to the Caribbean feeling.

The main styles include classic revival with gabled roofs and columned porches. Many are private residences while some have been converted to B & Bs.

Key West, Florida photo

The eyebrow house, a style unique to Key West, includes a roof that overhangs the top-floor windows to keep the sun out.

Key West, Florida photo

There are still some Bahama style homes with wraparound porches and floor-to-ceiling windows to best ventilate its interior.

Key West, Florida photo        Key West, Florida photo

The Queen Anne has a pointed turret.

Key West, Florida photo

Key West, Florida photo         Key West, Florida photo

One of the most common is the shotgun, single-story house also known as cigar maker’s cottages. These are popular and many have been renovated and used for vacation rentals. At one time, owners stuck to a pastel color palette, but some are much bolder, now.

This bungalow is joined to its neighbor giving it a contemporary look. A lovely walkway lies between them. Creative use of stained glass mixed with bright blue shutters has curb appeal.

Key West, Florida photo       Key West, Florida photo

One house has metal black crows attached to its roof.  I wonder how many people have stopped, wondering if they will fly off.

Key West, Florida photo

Weathered houses and worn shop fronts are filled with history and stories of their own.

We noticed how popular gable brackets are which give a plain house some island character of its own. House and shutter colors are pleasing to the eye and harmonize with the tropical foliage.  Carved wooden front doors are unique as well as porch decor and yard art.

Key West doesn’t wake up until noon making walking these side streets easy. The couple we traveled with love architecture and history, so it made for great company as we discovered quaint or funky alley ways and beckoning garden paths all laid out in this island paradise known as the “conch republic.”

Key West, Florida photo

“Houses are like people – some you like and some you don’t like – and once in a while there is one you love.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs


About travelerlynne

Traveler. Writer. Retired Educator.Traveling on and off the beaten path with my photographer husband. Volunteering locally as well as in Haiti and Tanzania, an enriching and humbling experience. A sun lover! Shelling, boating, fishing and watching sunsets. Growing mango, banana, key lime,and pineapple.Making smoothies and chutneys. Enjoying family and friends! Savoring each new day!
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33 Responses to Key West ~ Southernmost Paradise

  1. megtraveling says:

    Wonderful pictures of some really unique houses!

  2. Thanks, Meg. It was a lot of fun discovering them.

  3. I’m impressed at the homogeneousness of the area we’ve walked through – it means there’s a living culture and community, despite the changes. Loved the crows! 🙂

    • This island is only 2 miles by 4 and is unique in every way. A liberal community with an emphasis on individuality and self expression. Some of the old weathered homes go back to Bahamians who were once slaves, got their freedom and came to Key West in the 1800s. Lots of history. I think those crows are great, too. Maybe I should make some seagulls for my roof. 🙂

  4. Stephany says:

    My husband and I visited Key West a few years ago and had a wonderful time. Thanks for a lovely walk down memory lane!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed Key West. It can be a little crazy during some of the festivals, but its history and architecture and a dose of Duval Street are worth the trip. Thanks for you comment, Stephanie.

  5. Especially love the ones with bold touches. I lived in a blue weatherboard house once, a bit similar to the double bungalow up there. Except for the outside toilet, I’d still take that any day over a brand new McMansion. So much character!

  6. Sounds like you have some fond memories of that old house. I like a house with character…and indoor plumbing. We lived in a log house for years with wood stoves to heat it. That built all of our characters. 🙂

  7. vbholmes says:

    A few years back, I spent some time in Key West in October–the weather was lovely and the crowds thin. Thanks, Lynne, for reminding me of a fun time.

  8. Your most welcome. Key West is not for everyone and some say they would never go back. Culture shock. Am glad it brought back pleasant memories.

  9. Madhu says:

    Enjoyed the guided tour Lynne. The crows are a nice touch of whimsy! I love the marine themed brackets.Do they have beach views?

    • It was hard to decide which photos to use. I believe I was a little excessive, but am glad I included the crows. Every time I see them, I tell myself to get a picture and this time I did. No beach views from Old Town. In fact, Key West has few beaches and they are man made. Not the beautiful white sand everyone would think. Hotels, condos and water front restaurants have the best water views.

  10. Such a great variety of architecture, Lynne. I think if I could choose one of these, it would be the Queen Anne. I rather fancy having my study in a turret. 🙂 The sign board is really funny. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ugly cat. 😕

  11. restlessjo says:

    Love the Emerson quote, Lynne! Isn’t it a good-looking place? I have a yen for that little jewel with the stained glass. So many lovely shots! 🙂

  12. Hi Jo. I love the stained glass one, too. I’m partial to the shotgun houses though. We stayed in one, but I didn’t include the photo. Walking or riding a bicycle is the best way to get around in Old Town. The other areas are hotels, condos and shopping. The island is only 2 miles by 4. 🙂

    How is your shoulder doing? You gave us a scare.

  13. Marianne says:

    What a great place, Lynne! I’m afraid that my visits to Florida haven’t allowed me to get to Old Key West, but I LOVE the houses. They almost look like a film set 🙂

    I’m glad you let me know about your One Trip EVERY Month entry, Lynne because, for some reason, the link hadn’t shown up in my Dashboard. No idea why.

    Fabulous photos!

  14. We were here one year when streets were blocked because of filming. Saw Goldie Hawn. I added one trip every month onto my tag lines. Thanks for your comment.

  15. Lynne, thanks for the detailed architectural tour. My sister-in-law lived in Key West for many years. We haven’t been there for ages. Key West is so quaint, isn’t it? My favorite are the little cigar maker cottages. Decades ago, the little cigar maker cottages could be bought for a song. I wonder how much they cost, now? I’m sure it is way out of my humble fixed income.

  16. Hi Debbie. Key West is everything. Quaint, funky, touristy, and yet fun. I don’t think I would want to live there, but if I did, it would be in a cigar cottage. I love them too. I have no idea how much real estate cost, but pricy, I’m sure…as well as taxes.

  17. Love Emerson’s quote at the start of this post! And what a beautiful place and your pictures do great justice…now if only I could pack my bags and head that way:)

  18. We’re only a few hundred miles from Key West which makes for an easy getaway. Am pleases you liked the house tour, Peri.

  19. What a wonderful variety, Lynne! Gingerbread trim, little fences, vivid colors, palm accents, and the doors are spectacular. You could create a book of “Homes I’d Love To Live In” from all your travels, and I’d buy your first copy!

  20. What a delightful comment, Marylin. Am pleased you enjoyed Key West’s tour of homes. 🙂

  21. Such whimsical details you’ve captured, Lynne! I love the lesson in the opening quote too.

  22. Thanks Tricia. The quote seemed to fit the description and it definitely was whimsical ornamentation. 🙂

  23. I can be well-entertained just driving around looking at old houses. Thanks for capturing and sharing the flavor of Key West architecture.

  24. N. Netto says:

    Home of the Key Lime Pie, right? I am slightly addicted to them… and I absolutely love these houses! So beautiful! Good post!

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