It's our 10 year anniversary!

We're celebrating Key West's Culinary Culture & Historical Architecture

Welcome to Key West if it's your first time, but more than likely we are welcoming you back!


All of our events this year will feature a bit of history about our food culture at historical places with local artists that make Key West truly magical.


 Hosted by The Oldest House Museum

_______________________

Mario Sanchez 

1908-2005 

A National Treasure is Florida's most important artist with artwork in the Smithsonian, Whitney and MOMA. 


See Mario's wood carving at The Oldest House Museum

BUILT IN 1829

The Oldest House in South Florida

Old Island Restoration Foundation is celebrating 59 years!

What is a conch house?

Conch Houses of Key West and the Florida Keys

Conch Houses of Key West and the Florida Keys

What is a conch house? Early settlers of the Bahamas and Florida Keys built their homes of a morter made from sand, water, and lime. The settlers obtained their lime by burning conch shells. Having no building stones or bricks, but an abundance of conch shells the settlers often utilized the shell itself in constructing their houses. Thus the term "conch" house had its beginning. Later, wooden homes built by settlers and ship's carpenters utilizing a blend of architectural styles took on the name of conch houses.

Writer Slyvia Sunshine in her book Petals Plucked from Sunny Climes in describing them said in 1880,

"The architectural style of these buildings is adapted only to the necessities of a tropical clime - a shelter from the heat and rain. They have no chimneys, consequently no bright, cheerful firesides, with their fanciful shapes described in the curling smoke, leaping flames, or expiring coals, about which poets love to write and dream."

The classic Conch Houses of Key West and the Florida Keys exhibit multicultural roots inherited from the Bahamas, New England, and Africa. Hand-crafted of wood and constructed by seafaring carpenters, conch house architecture utilizes Gulf Coast building forms, the well proportioned architecture of the New England seacoast, and tropical adaptations of housing from the Caribbean.

A close look at a classic Conch House reveals an energy-efficient, and sensible design for living in the tropics:

  • Houses rest on piers for air circulation, which cools the house and prevents rotting .
  • Sloping metal roofs reflect the heat of the tropical sun and carry clean water by means of gutters to a storage cistern.
  • Dormers expand attic space into bedrooms. Roof hatches, a concept borrowed from ships also aid ventilation.
  • Exterior walls have no fire stops, horizontal blocks between studs in the wall. This allows air to circulate from the crawl space to the attic. Heat in the walls and attic dissipates by convection.
  • Louvered shutters block out the tropical afternoon heat while allowing circulation of sea breezes. Shutters also provide hurricane protection.
  • Porches and encircling verandahs provide shade and cut down the heat .Each room uses tongue and groove wood in the construction of flooring, walls, and ceiling. Each room has the rigidity of a sturdy structural cube to resist hurricanes.

Any number of restored conch houses can be viewed today in a tour of Key West. An easy way to learn more about conch architecture and Key West in general is to take the popular Conch Train Tour which begins close by Mallory Square on Front Street.

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