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Visit the Oldest House Today!

The Oldest House Museum and Garden is supported and operated by the nonprofit Old Island Restoration Foundation founded in 1960 providing for the preservation, celebration and promotion of Key West’s unique architecture, culture and history.

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Key West Home Tours

March 15th & 16th 2024

Purchase Now


Volunteer To Be a Home Tour Docent


 Don’t miss OIRF’s new events!

Speaker Series 

March 27, 2024
5:00 – 6:00 PM


Arlo Haskell — Author, Publisher and Executive Director of the popular Key West Literary Seminar

Experience The Oldest House & Gardens, a historic icon in Key West.

61st Annual Conch Blowing Contest


Sat. March 9, 2024 in the Gardens at the Oldest House.  Gates open at 10:30 am, Competition Noon - 2 pm
Conch shells have been used since ancient times to communicate, in ceremonies, and to call attention to impending storms.  
Old Island Restoration Foundation's Annual Conch Blowing Contest preserves the ongoing heritage of this local art, and draws attention from around the globe to our island and its maritime roots.
The Conch Blowing Contest has categories for all ages, and will include a training station for young Conch-blowers-to-be.    

Oldest House – Cussans Vernacular

Bahamian Style construction

The builder of the Oldest House was Richard Cussans, who immigrated to the Island of Key West in about 1826 from the Bahamas. He was in his mid-twenties when he built the house.

Mariner, Pilot, Sea Captain

Francis Watlington

Francis Watlington (1804-1887) Mariner, Pilot, Sea Captain. Born in St. Croix, V.I., he moved to Key West in the early 1830s with his young wife Emeline.

Cookhouses were very common in the 1700 and 1800s.


Cookhouses were very common in the 1700 and 1800s.  Kitchens were separate from the main house for many reasons, but the most important issue was fire. 

born in New York City

Emeline Johnson Watlington


Emeline Johnson Watlington, born in New York City, came to Key West as the sixteen year old bride of Francis.  She gave birth to nine daughters, sailing back to New York City and family for two births.