OLD ISLAND RESTORATION FOUNDATION

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The Oldest House this summer!

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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Helpful Tips

  • Home Tours start on December 28th  and 29th – Join us for a Key West Tradition
  • All our tickets are available for sale online and advance purchase is recommended!

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 it's History

The Oldest House in Key West and all of South Florida is located at 322 Duval Street. The house features family portraits and original furnishings, as well as other period pieces, ship models, and documents telling the story of old Key West. In the rear of the house is a spacious, peaceful garden, where benches invite you to sit and reflect. There, you will see the oldest surviving Cook House in South Florida.

Please stop by and tour the Oldest House in Key West, built in 1829. Key west’s oldest wood frame vernacular home (a simple wood frame building, which is the product of the builder’s experience, available resources and response to the environment) and its cookhouse located in the beautiful garden. Our volunteering docents will tell you the rich history of the house and the people that lived here as well as what island life was like in the 1800’s. The Museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Saturday. Trained staff and volunteer docents provide guided tours highlighting historical information about the house, family and island life in the 1800’s.

Hours of operation: OPEN 10:00AM to 4:00PM

Cookhouses were very common in the 1700 and 1800s.

Cookhouse

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. 

  • Event
November 2, 2022
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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.

born in New York City

Emeline Johnson Watlington

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.