Old Island Restoration Foundation's February Home Tour — Feb. 14 (Valentine's Day) and Feb. 15 — is nothing short of a love story: love of family, love of travel, love of Key West, all equate to love of home and hearth.
Almost everything in the five private homes, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday for your touring pleasure, is loaded with history and anecdotes of island life.
At 1406 South St., the modernish-style home was built in 1988 with plenty of contemporary panache. The formal side entrance to the three-bed/five-bath house is hidden behind a gated privacy fence, but the architectural wow-factor is instant: The house's front wall of 14 glass-paneled doors and windows abounds in Plantation shutters.
The globe-trotting homeowners have decorated with collectibles from all corners of the world, and while architecturally worlds apart in design, 1305 Reynolds is also a contemporary home that features a side entrance. But here, the front-door showstopper is from distant parts. The exquisite Indonesian pearl-inset door was lovingly rebuilt to fit the entry portal, similar to other fine wooden doors and artifacts throughout.
This home was initially built in 1976 as part of a compound that fronts on United Street, legally separated then renovated in 2011.
As always, OIRFs home tours bring together a variety of construction eras. For instance, 1307 Truman hails from the 1876-1910 Victorian era, and its three-story Queen Ann architecture fronts Bayview Park. It is a beauty among Truman Avenue's Mansion Row. The late 1800s five-bed/seven-bath manor house exudes charm and history, not least of which is a former life as the Women's Guild headquarters until 1941.
Current homeowner Matt Trahan bought the property in 2013 and says, “it is still a work in progress.” In fact, after Hurricane Irma he salvaged the chandelier and sconces adorning the back porch from Little Palm Island Resort.
A few blocks away at 1212 Newton St., it's hard to believe this home was built in 2001. Modeled after Old Town's most dominant architectural style — Classic Revival “Temple Front” — it has the double-front gallery of its 300 or so lookalikes that were also derived from high-style Greek Revival. This home even has a double-back gallery.
Indoors, the elegant interior staircase balustrades, butler's pantry and more provide an old-but-new design that fits perfectly into the Meadows' historic neighborhood.
But one of the most historic homes on the tour is 618 Grinnell. The eyebrow-style architecture of this late 1800s house is unique to Key West. It's an overall design borrowed from the Bahamas, then mildly adjusted by homebuilders here, who modified second-story windows to allow them to peek from below the front porch roofline — hence, eyebrow.
This homeowners' love affair with their house was recognized with the highest award from Historic Florida Keys Foundation for its careful renovation between 2011-13. The mostly Dade County pine structure features hand-painted palm motifs above both front rooms' picture-hanging rails — there, almost certainly, to add more love stories to its future.
Tickets to all five properties are $35 if purchased in advance at www.oirf.org. If not, tickets are $45 at the door of any home on the day of the tour. Tickets may be used all in one day or on both days because there is so much to see and celebrate during Old Island Restoration Foundation's 60th annual home tours celebration.