Oldest House, Key West

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 Reviews

322 Duval St. 305/294-9502

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  • wreakers monument
    wreakers monument
    by doug48
  • oldest houise
    oldest houise
    by doug48
  • Cartoons in the Wrecker's Museum
    Cartoons in the Wrecker's Museum
    by grandmaR
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    Wrecker's Museum

    by grandmaR Updated Sep 24, 2009

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    Counter to popular stories, wreckers were a respected part of society and contributed to the very high average income of Key West in the 1830s. They did not lure ships onto the shore with false lights - their goal was saving lives and cargo. They were licensed and a license is on display.

    This exhibit, which is in the back of the Oldest House/Wrecker's Museum says that there were no cases of false lights in this area. So the Key West lighthouse (pictured in one of the additional photos) was NOT built to foil the wreckers.

    The exhibit has an interactive map with the various wrecks depicted on it - when the button next to the story of the wreck is pushed, the light on the map at that location lights up.

    The Wrecker's Museum section also had a selection of cartoons and the office of the Captain.

    Bob looking at the list of local wrecks Front facade as of 2004 Desk in the Wrecker's office Cartoons in the Wrecker's Museum An old photo of the lighthouse
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    wreakers monument

    by doug48 Written Nov 9, 2008

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    located near mallory square and next to the el meson pepe restaurant is the wreakers monument. wreakers were key west captains who would rescue sailors from ships that ran a ground on the reefs near key west. these captains would make their living salvaging these ship wreaks. this was a very dangerous line of work but successful wreakers made fortunes in the early days of key west. next to the monument are busts of famous residents of key west. for those interested in key west history this is a very interesting place to visit.

    wreakers monument
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    oldest house and museum

    by doug48 Written Nov 9, 2008

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    the oldest house is located on duval street and is home to the wreakers museum. this historic home was built in 1829. this colonial style house was home to capt. francis watlington who was a customs inspector, harbor pilot, and wreaker. wreakers were ship captains who rescued the crews from ships that ran a ground on the reefs near key west. they earned their living from salvaging these ship wreaks. the oldest house has exhibits on "wreaking", antique furniture, maritime artifacts, and ship models. an interesting museum to visit on duval street.

    oldest houise
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    The Oldest house

    by goingsolo Written Nov 20, 2005

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    One of the most interesting things about Key West are the hidden gems you find hidden behind ordinary buildings. The oldest house is one such find. It became the default wedding location after Wilma took care of the beach at Ft. Zach. In addition to a small museum, the Oldest House in Key West also has a beautiful outdoor garden. It made the perfect spot for a November wedding.

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    The Oldest house

    by goingsolo Written Nov 20, 2005

    One of the most interesting things about Key West are the hidden gems you find hidden behind ordinary buildings. The oldest house is one such find. It became the default wedding location after Wilma took care of the beach at Ft. Zach. In addition to a small museum, the Oldest House in Key West also has a beautiful outdoor garden. It made the perfect spot for a November wedding.

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    Oldest House Dollhouse

    by grandmaR Updated Sep 13, 2005

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    To my surprise, there was a dollhouse upstairs in this house. Idon't think enough publicity is given to the presence of the dollhouse. It is a marvelous little thing, with a mural on the dining room wall by Martha Watson Sauer of Key West, and porches with rocking chairs. It is a bit hard to take photos of, because it is enclosed in glass (understandably) and there are killer reflections in the glass.

    This was not an item that was originally in the house - I don't know the background for this big dollhouse although it is newer than the 100 year old dolls that were displayed along with it. The sign said that the daughters of the original owner (there were 9 of them) might have had such a dollhouse. In addition to the dollhouse and the dolls and other playthings the displays included a crib and a child's hip bath.

    Dining room, bedroom and porch Front of the Dollhouse Kitchen, Halls and Nursery Child's crib and bath 100 year old dolls and toys (with unavoidable refl
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    Oldest House

    by grandmaR Updated Oct 2, 2004

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    An exception to all the Southernmost things that were here in Key West when we were there in 1966-69 is this house which is the oldest house. It was still a private house then, although even then it was signposted as the oldest house.

    It is now the Duval Street Wrecker's Museum. Admission charge is $5 or less if you have $1.00 off coupon. There is also a combination ticket with the Oldest House to the Heritage House Museum which is behind it on the next street.

    It is a one and a half story "New England Bahama House" (or "a Classic Revival five-bay center hall plan") built in 1829, 8 years after the treaty with Spain ceded East Florida and the Keys to the United States for unpaid debts. It was located on Whitehead St. near Caroline until 1832 when it was moved, by mule and heavy rollers, to the current location. ln 1974, it was donated to the state.

    The Watlington family that lived in the house (Captain Francis Watlington was a harbor pilot, coastal pilot and wrecker) was quite large (7 daughters). There were originally extra porches and breezeways where family members could sleep.

    Downstairs much of the furniture is original to the house. Upstairs are a dollhouse and other children's toys. The free standing cook house has an old beehive oven which is one of the oldest in Florida. The cook house was separate because of fire danger and also to keep the heat out of the main house. There's also an original cistern, Captain Wadlington's office and a map of the various wrecks in the area.

    The builder Richard W Cussans incorporated maritime features into the architectural design: mortise and tenon joinery, horizontal wall boards of now extinct Dade County Pine, a ship's hatch cut into the master bedroom roof to raise for ventilation.

    Oldest House in the late 60s Parlor Dining Room Bed with Mosquito Netting Old Sewing Machine and manual
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    Oldest House Cookhouse and Other Outbuildings

    by grandmaR Updated Mar 13, 2004

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    Our house in Leonardtown is a frame house built much later than the Oldest House in Key West, but we have a 'summer kitchen', which is a separate building from the main house. It was the custom in the south to build the kitchen separately for two reasons - to keep the heat of the fires or stove away from the main house, and to reduce the risk of fire.

    The wall oven (beside the fireplace) is a "beehive oven" believed to be the only one intact in Florida outside of the Ximenez-Fatio house in St. Augustine which was built in the 1790s. Notice the old egg carriers, and various cooking implements.

    Oldest House Kitchen Necessary House and Cookhouse from the garden Sign in the cookhouse House from the back Cistern sign
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    Wrecker's Museum

    by GUYON Written Feb 25, 2003

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    It is the oldest house of the South Florida.
    It was owned by a wrecking captain, Francis Watlington.
    Now, it is the Wrecker's Museum to show the time when Key West was the richest city of USA thanks to the wrecks.

    Oldest House of South Florida
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    Oldest House

    by eahollin Written Dec 14, 2004

    Hey look! An old house! We didn't take the tour, but it was practically across the street from the Bed & Breakfast we stayed in.

    Great Color Scheme!
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