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  • Writer's pictureChelsea Susan Bednar

Key West: A Brief History

A Brief Historical Timeline:

In 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon of Spain claimed the land that would later become known as Key West. The city has roots in the porting industry all the way back to 1823, when the first customs house & Naval Depot were established. Soon after both the Army & Military would set up base here, building Fort Taylor. Key West officially became a city in 1832, vibrant with fishers, fruit merchants, and cigar makers.

The Guest Mansion's roots run deep within Key West, having been constructed in 1889 by Francisco Marrero for his wife, Enriquetta Marrero. Francisco was a prominent cigar maker with ties to Cuba. They’re life together was relatively short lived, but their story goes down in history to this day. Legend has it one day Enriquetta's spirit came back to reclaim her home... and never left.

After the Great Depression, Tourism saved the city. Having been wore-lorn over the years by hurricanes, fires, and impoverishment, Key West was in much need of recoupment. The Florida Emergency Relief Commission helped begin reconstruction, and in the 1940s, President Truman established a home there, referring to it as his “Little White House”.

Between the 40s & 50s, the population doubled in residents. After another economic decline and the cuban revolution, Key West was in need of help. Famous artists, writers, and creators set roots, and soon after the city was flooded with ever-growing tourism. In 1982 The Conch Republic was established.

Onward from the 1990s, Key West developed into the city it is today! This quiet town became notorious for being ‘the party city”, with Duval Street becoming legendary for it’s rows of bars leading all the way down to the waterfront. The population is a mix of full time locals, “snowbirds” (people who stay for the winters), and bustling tourists. Walk the historical streets and take note of the cobblestone streets, admire the old architecture that survived hurricanes and economic crises, and notice the historical landmarks.

Want to learn more? Read more online - see this article by the Historical Preservation Society of the Upper Keys about Key West’s colorful history. If you’re already in town, shop small at Books & Books or the Key West Island Bookstore for local authors & books on the island’s history. If you’re feeling brave, you may even want to pick up what Key West has become notorious for: Ghost Stories.

Living History: Experience Key West

Marrero's Guest Mansion has stood its ground from the early ages of Key West. While its ownership began with the scandalous story of the Marrero's, it's been passed down through many hands over the years, eventually joining the {verdigreen} hotels family. As of 2021, Marrero's underwent much needed renovations, lovingly restored to a Palm Beach Regency inspired interior. Follow the footsteps of the past as you enter the premises, knowing you're a part of history in the making.

We hope you enjoyed our brief dive in to the past. We look forward to hosting you when you stay with us. Thanks for reading,

The Marrero's Team

Traveling elsewhere in Florida? Visit our sister property in Treasure Island FL.

Remember to follow Marrero's on Instagram and Facebook, and tell us about your stay over at Trip Advisor. We look forward to hosting your next beach getaway!

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