We are in need of some additional homes to feature on our home tours for February and March 2023, won't you please support our event and share your architectural gem with visitors from all over?
For over six decades, Old Island Restoration Foundation has preserved and promoted Key West history and culture. One of its main yearly events is the Home Tours. OIRF’s mission of preserving our historic structures and efforts to enlighten and entertain the public about the City’s cultural legacy predates what we know today as the “Historic District”. Our visitors come to learn about the quality and variety of Key West’s historic structures numbering approximately 3,000, the largest of its type in the U.S.
The Old Island Restoration Foundation (OIRF) is preparing for the 2022-2023 Key West Home Tours, and we would like to invite you to participate. This will be the sixty-third year of the tour which runs one weekend a month between December 2022 and March 2023. The objective of the tour is to promote OIRF’s mission of “celebrating and sustaining Key West’s unique architecture, culture, and history.”
Homes on the tour are both large and small and are chosen to be inclusive of a range of sizes and styles that reflect the character of our city. Requirements for participation include the following:
We understand deciding to include your home on the tour is a big decision. To accept this invitation or for more information you can contact a member of OIRF at 305-294-9501, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Oldest House Museum at 322 Duval St.
The profits from the tours are used to not only maintain and improve the Oldest House Museum and Tom Majors Garden at 322 Duval Street but proceeds are also given as grants to assist in preserving other historic buildings in the Historic District. This year the foundation was able to install a state of the art fire suppression system, completely renovate the garden at the Oldest House Museum, provide scholarship funds to the Bahamas Village music program and a donation was made to the restoration efforts at the Hellings Mansion home to the Key West Women’s Guild.
The City of Key West Building Official Raj Ramsingh is working with the Engineering Department to carefully assess the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center to ensure complete public safety.
In recent months, parts of the facility – especially the entry and changing rooms – have shown signs of deterioration.
“We’re doing a structural analysis to make sure the facility is safe,” said City Manager Patti McLauchlin.
The community center and pool were renovated in 2011 and its roof was renovated in 2018. The facility, located at 300 Catherine Street, was built in the 1950s.
The initial safety assessment should be finished with the next two weeks, says Engineering Director Gary Volenec. At that point, the City will decide whether to close it until the deterioration is shored up, or whether it’s safe to continue public access while addressing the problem areas.
On Saturday, December 3rd the City of Key West and Waste Management will be holding the monthly free drop off for hazardous waste. The service, available to Key West residents only, is held at Indigenous Park on White Street from 8 a.m. until noon.
Items accepted will be household chemicals and electronics such as but not limited to gasoline (in a leakproof container), oil, batteries, acids, poisons, cleaners, fertilizers, pool chemicals, TVs, microwaves, gaming systems, phones, computer parts and accessories, remote controls, etc.
They will not be accepting any household garbage or appliances.
The City of Key West wants to hear ideas from the community regarding renovations to Bayview Park, and we’re convening another public workshop. Everyone is invited to the workshop on Wednesday, December 7th from 3 to 5 p.m. The workshop will be convened in the commission chambers at City Hall, 1300 White Street.
The historic park is home to several war and veterans memorials, tennis and basketball courts, a ball field, a bandstand, and the Boys and Girls Club. This workshop will help the City with feedback from the community on the best ways to give the park a facelift.
Just in time for the holidays, the Key West Art & Historical Society has announced it will be adding a limited number of personalized commemorative bricks along the southeast walkway adjacent to the Key West Museum of Art & History. The bricks are now available for purchase with a projected installation date of December 2023.
Personalized bricks ensure that you, your business, a friend, or a pet will be memorialized in history while supporting the ongoing costs of keeping the museum building a beacon of historic preservation. At 131 years old, the Florida Keys’ most iconic landmark looks exceptional for her age, but not without dedication and effort. Your $130 donation secures one commemorative brick which can accommodate up to three lines of text and can also be embellished with a selection of decorative symbols for an additional $25.
To leave your legacy and help preserve the history of Key West and the Florida Keys, visit https://www.kwahs.org/support. Alternatively, you can contact Membership Coordinator Kim Livingston at 305-295-6616, ext. 506 or email@example.com. Key West Art & Historical Society is a registered 501(c)(3) organization under IRS guidelines and contributions may be tax deductible. Please consult your tax advisor for more details.
Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.
The public is invited to share in holiday cheer at the Third Annual Sand Sculpture Christmas Tree Lighting on Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 6pm at the Sun Sun Concert Pier at Casa Marina, 1500 Reynolds St., Key West. Guests will have the opportunity to see the giant sand sculpture Christmas tree light up for the first time this holiday season, enjoy live music, holiday cheer, free parking, and a presentation of toys to representatives of The Boys and Girls Clubs of The Keys. Donations of unwrapped toys may be brought to Casa Marina Key West now through November 30, 2022.
“We are delighted to present the third annual Christmas tree lighting event with a special presentation of donated toys to The Boys and Girls Clubs of The Keys. It’s one of the local organizations that we support not just during the holidays, but all year long,” said John Trovato, Managing Director, Casa Marina Key West. “Marianne, our resident sand sculpture artist and owner of Just Sand and Water, does a remarkable job and I hope everyone attending is just as amazed as we are with her outstanding talent,” he said.
Casa Marina will display the sand sculpture Christmas tree through the holidays. Sun Sun Concert Pier presents free live music Wednesday through Saturday evenings and is located adjacent to Sun Sun Beach Bar & Grill, offering an elevated beach dining experience for lunch, dinner, and cocktails daily. Open to the public.
Holiday Toy Drive Kicks Off Today at Casa Marina Key West - Benefiting The Boys and Girls Clubs of The Keys
Casa Marina Key West kicks off their annual Holiday Toy Drive benefiting The Boys and Girls Clubs of The Keys on November 23, 2022. Area businesses, local organizations and the public are invited to participate in the toy drive by bringing new and unwrapped toys to Casa Marina Key West, now through November 30, 2022.
“We’re inviting the public help us brighten the holidays for our local children by donating new and unwrapped toys to benefit The Boys and Girls Clubs of The Keys. Donations can be dropped off at Casa Marina 24 hours a day, now to November 30th,” said John Trovato, Managing Director, Casa Marina Key West. “Whether you have one toy, a dozen toys, or more, your donation will bring joy to a child in need,” he said.
All toys will be presented to The Boys and Girls Clubs of The Keys at the Third Annual Sand Sculpture Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration, December 1, 2022 at Sun Sun Concert Pier at Casa Marina, 1500 Reynolds St, Key West.
Coincidences mean a lot to Realtor Jaime Caballero, owner of Key West Vacation Properties & Realty.
Jaime, a Key West native since her birth in 1967, realized this during the COVID pandemic in 2020.
“During COVID, my husband Arnold would ride me around town when we wanted to get out of the house. We were bored and were looking for a new office space,” she said of her high school sweetheart and husband of 38 years. “At the end of February 2021, we stumbled across 323 Fleming Street and I instantly fell in love with it and had a contract in my hand by the end of the day.”
Coincidence number one: The day they closed on the property was May 7, 2021. Jaime started her real estate company on May 7, 2009.
Coincidence number two is when Jaime discovered that she had worked with one the previous owners of the building, the Spottswood family, for 13 years and where she started her career in property management. Bill Spottswood’s wife owned an accounting firm called Moore & Spottswood, CPA and with her business partner purchased 317 Fleming Street. After researching the history of the building, Jaime discover that 317 Fleming’s address had been changed to 323 Fleming Street. Today it is the only remaining building from the original plat since in 1939 the U.S. Navy condemned residential properties in Square 39 and all were razed or moved, except for this property.
Coincidence number three occurred when Jaime discovered that when 323 Fleming was military navy housing for married couples it was called Quarter J. J = Jaime. There is a plaque explaining the history of Quarter J on the outside of the building. The base closed in 1974.
Coincidence number four was the most profound for her. When she had the hardwood floors sanded down to their original texture in the upstairs conference room, she had recently lost her brother Gary Manning. Jaime said he was obsessed with monkeys and called himself the mangrove monkey. Once sanded down, a distinct image of a monkey was present in the grain of the flooring.
“It was all these little coincidences that made me realize that this property was meant to be,” she said.
Jaime and Arnold, along with their Key West renovation team of Zolton Boros Classic Wood Floors, Michael Monsalvatge of Mike’s Painting, Kolhage’s Appliances and Electronics, Curry Refrigeration and Air Conditioning and more, recently completed the nearly 18-month refurbishment.
Historian Sharon Wells was instrumental in helping with researching the history of the building and Bob Cerkleski of Key West Sea Store Antiques sold Jaime a majority of the picture frames used throughout the office.
“I went through 30,000 light fixtures to pick the lights for the rooms and exterior and 2,000 antique hardware selections for hinges, knobs, outlet covers and light switches,” Jaime said, adding the furnishings were acquired through Arhaus of Naples, Fl. “Discovering Arhaus was a godsend. I became obsessed with their furniture and their design team sat with me for six hours and became the voice of reason when I was trying to fit six pieces of furniture in an office that would only hold three.”
The two story structure was built between 1909 and 1911 and encompasses approximately 2,200 square feet with six offices, two conference rooms, downstairs lobby, kitchen and two bathrooms.
“We were really pleased to use all local vendors for this project,” she said. “We were lucky to be Zolton Boros’ last client before he retired and moved out of town after over 20 years (coincidence number five) and Michael Monsalvatge’s family goes back to the 1900s in Key West. He painted the inside and the outside of the building.”
Kolhage’s Appliances replaced all the appliances and helped design the color of the counter tops and cabinets. Lucy LeCompte from Home Depot designed the kitchen cabinets. Patrick Curry replaced all of the AC ducts and the two AC units.
In early November, Jaime was notified by the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce that 323 Fleming Street had been selected to receive an Historic Preservation Award for the extensive renovation at their December meeting. The property is listed on Truman Annex National Register District, 1982 and in the 1984 U. S. Naval Station (Key West) District on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The attention to detail, not only on the interior, but as well as the exterior of the building has caught the eye of many,” wrote Robert Goltz, executive vice president of the Chamber. “The addition to having each of the rooms in your office have a theme that represents part of Key West history was a brilliant idea.”
Jaime said she was intrigued by the history of the property and really felt a passion to preserve it to its glory and honor the building and the town’s history.
“My passion from my soul for this city that I was born and raised in took over. I didn't have a budget, I had a ‘want’ to make it a piece of history to cherish forever. And with my brother and parents passing away recently, it made me feel like it was meant to be with every turn.”
Jaime’s parent’s and older brothers were born in Massachusetts. Her dad was in the Navy (coincidence six that the building was navy housing) for a short period of time and visited Bermuda and fell in love with it. He said Key West was the closest thing he could find to Bermuda so in 1957 he moved his family to Key West and that’s where Jaime and her sister were born.
One of the upstairs offices has special meaning for Jaime’s remembrance of her father who just passed away in September of 2022.
The room is themed with memorabilia of all the noteworthy ships that are a part of Key West history including the Singleton shrimp fleet, the USS Governor Cobb, the USS Maine and President Truman’s yacht, the USS Williamsburg.
Also in this room is a photo of the motor vessel the Jaime Ann that Jaime and her mother and father would stay on overnight at Christmas Tree Island, a 22-acre island visible from Mallory Square and sister to Sunset Key. While her dad would make his coffee in the mornings, Jaime would drive the 32-foot Owens cabin cruiser under the Fleming Key Bridge to get to her fourth grade class by bicycle. When not in school, Jaime would cross the street to the charter boats and Captain Tommy Lones, who owned the Gulfstream at the time would pay her about five dollars to hose the boat down after they returned from a fishing charter.
“When I was cleaning out the storage closet upstairs, I found the logbook for the motor vessel the Jaime Ann and the log told the same story of our sleeping at Christmas tree island so I guess that’s coincidence number seven.”
Other themes for the rooms include paying tribute to the restaurants and bars of Key West past and present in their kitchen area. A photo of the Bull and Whistle bar is included there.
“When I was in the third grade, my mom sent me to school for picture day with a t-shirt from that bar and I got sent home because back then it was frowned upon for a child to wear anything with a bar on it,” she said.
Jaime’s office just off the lobby on the first floor includes photos of all the presidents that visited Key West. Her daughter, Alexandria’s office across the lobby from Jaime’s, also a Realtor with the company, honors the Southernmost House and Customs House.
Alexandria graduated high school in 2008 and began working for Jaime at the front desk at Sunrise Suites the year before she started KWVPR. Now in her 14th year with her mom, they have been a mother-daughter real estate team since 2011 when she became a Realtor. Alexandria recently passed her broker’s test in June and is awaiting sitting for her broker’s exam. Once she is a licensed broker, Jaime plans to make her partner.
The upstairs conference room honors the Flagler railroad and it includes a photo of Flagler’s first ride on the train into Key West. The people surrounding him in the photo include Key West resident Wesley Archer’s relatives that were there that day of January 22, 1912. Archer is Arnold’s best friend from high school who helped the couple on the refurbishment of the building.
Jaime said there is an 8’x8’ room under Alexandria’s office which was the old cistern.
“I really wanted to make it a bricked sitting room but I figured it wouldn’t be approved,” she said. “We found an old Pepsi bottle from the 1970s down there and an originally carved wood handle screwdriver which is displayed in the upstairs Ship room.”
The lobby includes photos of all the writers of Key West including Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and American poet Elizabeth Bishop.
“The meaning for me behind honoring Elizabeth Bishop is that I sold that house at 624 White Street in 2019 for the family that bought it from Bishop,” Jaime said. “Today it is home to the Key West Literary Seminar so yet another piece of Key West history is being preserved for generations to come.”
The downstairs conference room is a little bit of Spottswood history, the company where Jaime began her property management career. It includes a map where owners put a pin marker on where they live as a tribute to them. There are also pictures on the wall of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church which became a Basilica in 2012 and Convent of Mary Immaculate. The convent was one of the buildings destroyed following the destruction and demise of architectural gems in the mid 1950s. In 1963, the Florida legislature granted Key West the authority to create an architectural review board. By 1986 this board had evolved and was renamed the Historic Architecture Review Commission (HARC) for the purpose of preservation and conservation of the character of historic buildings.
In the hallway upstairs are photos of homes Jaime has managed or sold over the years and around the corner includes photos of all the lighthouses of the keys she has visited along with maps of their locations. There is an empty frame representing the lighthouses Jaime still has on her bucket list to visit and eventually will add those photos as well.
Another office upstairs honors the history of Key West’s local economy including turtling, sponging, and of course fishing. In this room there are three photos of charter boats from Garrison Bight Marina: the Can’t Miss, the Greyhound and the Gulfstream. They are right across from Pelican Landing, a condo building in Key West Jaime continues to manage.
A retired fire fighter, Arnold serves as project manager for the company and has his office upstairs designed with photos and memorabilia of Cuba, fire and police. Arnold was born in Regla in June 1965 and his family came to Key West the same year on the Freedom Flights (known in Spanish as Los vuelos de la libertad) that transported Cubans to Miami twice daily, five times per week from 1965 to 1973.
What they call the bonus office upstairs is currently being used for their daughter Jacqueline’s autistic grandson Dominic, age 9, as a classroom and is decorated with pictures and items from all the places the couple has visited in their life together.
“When I first started looking for office space it was always going to be a dual use building for my real estate company as well as an autism school for Dominic,” Jaime said. “We unfortunately don’t have the resources here in Key West for autistic students, so Jacqueline quit her job as a bookkeeper at Poinciana Elementary School in order to homeschool him due to his special needs.”
Jaime added the reason they call it the bonus office is because this is where the stairs used to come up into the upstairs but were removed by Moore and Spottswood, CPAs during their renovation when they owned it.
The downstairs bathroom has framed antique postcards grouped by government buildings, businesses, tourist attractions and hotels and the bathroom upstairs has historic newspapers and buildings.
The exterior porches are Montauk black slate tile with three different sitting areas for clients and guests to enjoy and all the exterior doors are black with decorative hinges and door handles with glass that match the landscape lighting and exterior lighting.
On the front porch is also a sign commemorating the 200th anniversary of Key West in 2022.
Extra touches Jaime added include books throughout the office including a book on the St. Mary’s Star of the Sea in the conference room along with a variety of Key West coffee table books and cookbooks. In the lobby there is one book of each of the writers displayed on the walls and in the Flagler Railroad room is a spike from the original railroad along with books and a model of Car 91. Car 91 was the car Flagler and his wife always rode in.
She said they also left all the palm trees that align the building, 13 in all. According to some, the number 13 can signify a renewed passion and motivation. It also symbolizes tradition, organization, judgment and hard work.
“They were in the pictures I found in the public library and Library of Congress while researching the property,” she said. “History is important. I’m proud to be a conch and I’m proud to be able to preserve this piece of history.”
Jaime met her husband Arnold her senior year of high school in 1985 and they were married in 1987. In 1996, Arnold became a fire fighter and in 2003 she earned her real estate license and became an agent.
In 2009, Jaime became a real estate broker and started her own company. Later that same year she opened Key West Housekeeping Services to better serve her clients. In 2012 she opened Key West Residential Property Management in order to expand her long term property rental pool.
She has over 30 years in the real estate industry and is active in the National Association of Realtors, Florida Realtors which she will serve in 2023 as District Vice President covering Miami and the Florida Keys. She is also a member of the Key West Association of Realtors and served as president in 2021 and has been active with the National Association of Residential Property Managers serving as Florida State President in 2017 helping promote best practices for property management.
Today, Jaime and Arnold have three daughters, three granddaughters and one grandson. Their third daughter, Elizabeth, just graduated from law school in Boston and they are hoping one day she’ll move it back to Key West and work with the company as well.
“It was always important to me to raise my kids in Key West. It’s a small town and in our community everyone watches out for everyone,” she said. “Key West is a four mile by two mile island and when I was growing up we had a joke that we never spent two Christmas holidays in the same house.”
Jaime’s favorite house was the last one she lived in before getting married at 1004 Eaton Street, less than a mile from her new office.
“That’s where my daughter Alexandria was born in 1989. It was my parent’s house before they moved out of town and we lived there for four years from 1985 to1989 which was actually a record for the Manning family.”
Jaime said growing up on a small island like Key West as a teenager was challenging because she said nobody knew her name they just knew who she belonged to so she couldn’t get away with anything.
“But fast forward 20 years later and it was the best thing that ever happened to me because then I knew when my kids did something wrong and the residents knew who they belonged to,” she laughs.
As for advice to anyone wanting to undertake a restoration project like the one they just completed at 323 Fleming Street she says: “I never got into business to buy a building. It all just fell into place so nicely and when you work hard and don’t expect anything and do it because you love it, good things come.”
Call to Female Artists: Florida Keys Women’s Art Exhibition Returns to the Key West Museum of Art & History
Key West Art & Historical Society is reviving its popular juried art exhibition, “From a Woman’s Hand,” and invites Florida Keys women to apply. The exhibit in the Key West Museum of Art & History’s Bumpus Gallery will feature paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints, textiles, and ceramics created by female artists. There will be a special opening reception for the artists and the public on February 24, 2023, with the show running from that date through April 16.
Drawn entirely from the Florida Keys community, the exhibit illuminates the remarkable achievements of women artists who have been marginalized for centuries. Gender bias is less obvious today, but contemporary women artists still face many barriers and disparities, as well as continual underrepresentation in museum collections and exhibitions worldwide. Arts community leaders Jane Grannis, Martha Resk, Lois Songer and Cori Convertito, Ph.D. will jury the exhibit.
The submission fee for artists is $10, which will offset the cost of the opening reception. Only one submission per artist, with a deadline of January 8; all mediums and themes will be considered but work must have been completed within the last three years and cannot have been displayed previously at the museum. Artist notification is January 23 with delivery dates February 13 to 15. Please note that Society policies strictly prohibit the sale of any artwork during the exhibit.
Please visit www.kwahs.org/exhibits for important entry details and to submit your work. This exhibit is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the State of Florida, with additional support provided by The Helmerich Trust. For more information, contact Cori Convertito, Ph.D. at 305-295-6616 x507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.
All Monroe County Fire Rescue stations are designated Toys for Tots drop-off locations for new, unwrapped gifts for local children. Drop donated toys at any fire station until Dec. 16.
MCFR stations are located at:
• Station 8 - Stock Island, 5655 MacDonald Avenue, MM 5
• Station 9 - Big Coppitt, 28 Emerald Drive, MM 10
• Station 10 – Sugarloaf, 17175 Overseas Highway, MM 17
• Station 11 – Cudjoe, 22352 Overseas Highway, MM 20
• Station 13 - Big Pine Key, 390 Key Deer Boulevard, MM 30.5
• Station 17 - Conch Key, 10 S Conch Avenue, MM 63
• Station 18 – Layton, 68260 Overseas Highway, MM 68.5
• Station 22 – Tavernier, 151 Marine Avenue, MM 92
Submit Your Stories
Chamber members send us your press releases on your organizations accomplishments, staff awards and/or major happenings. We will post them for free.