Key West is known for many things. A few that come to mind include bars like Sloppy Joe’s, world class fishing, and Ernest Hemingway. But, the island is also wonderfully chock full of other sights to explore and enjoy.
Key West Architecture
The tiny island of Key West has the largest historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in the country. There are over 1,000 remaining wooden houses that date anywhere from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. And, many of these homes have been restored, delighting visitors.
Of these historic houses, the “conch house” or “conch cottage” is one of the most famous area styles. A conch house is a style of architecture developed in Key West, Florida in the 19th century. This architectural style was mainly the work of shipbuilders from the Bahamas that made the island home.
Conch houses are generally two story homes, raised off the ground on wood posts to allow air to circulate underneath the house. This was done to help keep the houses cool in the fierce heat experienced in Key West. But, the front porch, sometimes wrapping around the sides on both stories, is the most notable feature of these homes. They also have large windows with “Bahama shutters” and high ceilings to take advantage of any breezes.
Many restored conch houses on the island are now historical landmarks, businesses, or both. For instance, the Conch House on Truman Avenue has been a successful B&B for years. Whether you stay in a historic conch house when you visit, or you just admire them, they will surely make an impression.