Octber 24, 2018 – (Key West, FL). Architectural heritage presentation offered by Key West Art & Historical Society’s Distinguished Speaker Snow Philip
Well-known for its fusion of many elements, Key West’s architecture reflects the rich diversity of its history and heritage. On Thursday, November 8 at 6:00pm in the Helmerich Research & Learning Center at the Custom House Museum, Key West Art & Historical Society Distinguished Speaker Series guest and art historian Snow Philip explores this heritage by presenting the island’s variety of styles, influences, and environmental demands that have helped shape historic Old Town’s unique charm and nature.
A graduate Hood College, University of Grenoble, and George Washington University with a BA in History of Art and Architecture and a BA in Modern Languages, Snow has traveled extensively, allowing her to develop an appreciation and understanding of architecture and offer it to others as a tour guide. Naturally, she knows a thing or two about Key West.
Though tiny in size, Key West is the largest historical district on the US Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places and is believed to be the largest predominantly wooden one in the U.S. More than 3,000 wooden buildings, constructed throughout the 19th century, have stood the test of time and now serve as a reminder of the early settlers- Bahamian shipwreck salvagers and spongers, Cuban cigar barons, New England sea captains and their families- that helped shape the island’s current culture.
New England shipbuilders and African and Haitian carpenters help account for the island’s wide variety of architectural styles, with design renditions of the Greek Revival and shotgun houses built in the style of their native homes. Many other homes were transported from the Caribbean island where they were built. Later, ornate Victorian mansions with turrets, widow’s walks, balconies, and porches accented by gingerbread and turned spindles were built to reflect the island’s rising wealth from industry and commerce.
Out of necessity, the island embraced eco-architecture long before it was ever an established concept. Thoughtful location, size, design, and foundation were requirements to withstand the elements: hurricanes, storm surges, extreme heat, drought, termites, and fires. Conch homes featured wraparound verandahs and shuttered doors and windows, and cigarmakers’ cottages featured side halls with three rooms for air flow. Deep covered porches created shade, louvered shutters let in breeze but kept out sun. Roof ventilation hatches similar to the scuttles on ship decks released heat. Cisterns, gutters, and downspouts collected and stored water during dry spells. Dade County Pine provided durability and protection against insect and rot resistance. Metal roofing prevented the rapid spread of fires, an adaptation learned the hard way after a devastating fire in 1886 ravaged Old Town.
Philip will illuminate the audience on how these elements have worked in unison not only to help provide the island’s mixed heritages with homes but offer a colorful and tangible history for us to marvel and appreciate now.
Philip currently lives between Key West and Venice, Italy and gives presentations to Road Scholar tours on the subject of Architecture.
Tickets available at kwahs.org (click “Tickets”); $5 for Society members, $10 for non-members—advanced ticket purchase is recommended. Sponsored by the Helmerich Trust. For more information, contact Adele Williams, Director of Education, at 305-295-6616 x115. Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.
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On Thursday, November 8, from 6:00pm-7:00pm at the Custom House Museum, 281 Front Street, Key West Art & Historical Society Distinguished Speaker Series guest Snow Philip will discuss the wide variety of styles and influences that led to Key West’s unique architectural fusion.