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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

December 29th and 30th 2023

January 12th and 13th 2024

February 16th and 17th 2024

March 15th and 16th 2024


Purchase Now


Annual Conch Blowing Contest 

March 9, 2024


Speaker Series – – To Be Announced Soon

Experience The Oldest House

Visit The Oldest House Museum and Tom Majors garden, a historic icon in Key West.


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The House and its History

The Oldest House in Key West and all of South Florida is at the heart of the original Duval Street. Imagine a slice of life just after Key West was established as a city on this island frontier. The Watlington family lived here for 140 years, infused in the rich fabric of our culture, and their story is intertwined with the story of Key West itself.


Please stop by and tour the Oldest House in Key West, built and rolled into place in 1829. Furnished in American Empire style by Emeline Watlington, its simple but historically relevant nod to Greek and Roman aesthetics was popular to convey a sense of prosperity and stability in our emerging nation. As Key West’s oldest wood frame vernacular, this Bahamian-style home still also features its original cookhouse, the oldest surviving in South Florida. The peaceful garden is 70% native species, bookended by a pair of beautifully scarred trees that, like the house, have survived fire, flood and hurricane.


OPEN 10:00AM to 4:00PM, 7 days a week, 322 Duval Street

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.