Historic Markers Across Florida

Harbor House

Marker ID:  
Location: on Front St, Key West, FL
County: Monroe
Coordinates: N 24° 33.584    W 081° 48.382
  24.55973333    -81.80636666
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: WM6J98


Harbor House
Since 1886

Harbor House at 423 Front St, ravaged by fire twice in its history, is a two story brick building with a long Key West history. Built in 1885 by George Lewis and Georga Allen, this structure was home of the Bank of Key West, which the two men had started in 1884. The bricks for the building had to be brought in to Key West from the north in sailing ships.

The beautiful new building did not last. a big fire in 1886 destroyed all but the two foot thick outer walls and the rest of the structure was rebuilt. The bank failed in 1891 ending Lewis and Allen´s dreams.

R Alfred Monsalvatore and Jeremiah Fogartt saw the possibilities of the Harbor House as an important Key West building and established the Union Bank there in 1893 where it remained until 1895 when it was liquidated.

During the next several years the brick building was home to varied establishments. The Monsalvatge & Feed Store. Sabastian Cabrera bought the building in about 1920 and established a wholesale grocery in it.

Broadway producer Walter Starke bought the building in 1960 when it was the original Key West Hand Print Fabrocs. The structure underwent restoration shortly thereafter, and in 1969 became n arcade and in 1970 opened a number of small shops there. Bruck Gaylord and Suzy Defoo each had galleries there. Soon after they moved out, famous restaurant chef Emile took location there.

The building changed hands again in 1980, but in 1984 a huge fire struck, destroying the entire second floor and roof. The building was then condemned by the city.

A few years later the building was bought privately once again and held boutiques specializing in Key West souvenirs and high style clothing.

The Harbor House has endured several hardships in the course of its existence and though its two foot thick walls may not stand forever, its spirit and prestige will exist eternally.


City: Key West, FL