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The Most Historic Sites in Key West
 
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Key West has a rich past filled with tales of pirates, shipwrecks, treasure hunters, Indians and more. It’s no wonder that this tiny island has an abundance of ancient buildings, military forts and historic sites that help tell its fascinating story. While you’re on vacation, spend some time exploring the numerous places that are so much a part of its history.

  Truman Little White House
The Truman Little White House

It was here in this special little house that our 33rd President sought a quiet winter retreat in 1946. But what was supposed to be a short getaway turned into a 175-day stay, as Harry S. Truman quickly fell in love with Key West. While he was there, he used the home as his second headquarters, running the United States Government, hosting important meetings and carrying on the affairs on the presidency.  Other notable guests to the Truman Little White House include William Howard Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. A visit to this historic museum today allows you to discover all the fascinating facts about Harry Truman’s life on the island, his years as the president and the rich past of the house that was built in 1890. Tours are offered 365 days a year from 9:00am to 4:30pm.


Fort Zachary Taylor

Built in the mid 1800’s to protect the southeastern coastline of the United States, Fort Zachary Taylor was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973.  It played an important role during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War and had three floors of gunrooms and a three-story barracks building. When newer, more modern weapons were installed in 1889, the older cannons and ammunition were buried in the newly constructed outer walls to save money. Although those ancient weapons were discovered and removed in 1968, the fort still has Civil War era cannons that visitors can see during an informative tour. It’s also home to one of the best beaches on the island and is a beautiful park to enjoy a picnic, go swimming, snorkeling and fishing.


Audubon House

John James Audubon visited the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas in 1832 and during that time he drew 22 new birds for his acclaimed “Birds of America” Folio. Audubon and antique enthusiasts can learn more about the renowned artist and naturalist by touring this historic house and gardens located at 205 Whitehead Street. There are antiques, furnishings reminiscent of the 1800’s and various exhibits. Guided tours are offered 7 days a week from 9:30am until 4:15pm.

 

Custom House Museum

This beautiful building, located on Key West’s historic seaport, was built in 1891 and was the original home to Key West’s postal service, customs office and district courts. Today, it is home to the Key West Museum of Art and History and offers guests a wonderful journey through the island’s history. Two floors showcase exhibits that display centuries of history, art, people and the events that shaped Key West through the ages.  Custom House Museum is located at 281 Front Street and is open daily from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

 

Fort East Martello

Construction on this United States Army fort began in 1862 and when completed, it was supposed to protect and defend the island against confederate attacks. Although it served during such tumultuous times as the Civil War, the fort was never involved in any battles. In 1950, the Key West Art and Historical Society worked to reopen Fort East Martello as a new museum. Because of their support and perseverance, the national landmark has become a significant point of interest for visitors and locals alike. The museum features a preserved collection of Civil War relics, sculptures, folk art and a host of information about the days when the wrecking and cigar industries made Key West the most wealthy city in the USA.

The fort is located at 3501 S. Roosevelt Boulevard and is open everyday from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

 

Key West holds onto its history through the many museums, century old architecture and intriguing stories of famous people who’ve made it their home. On your next visit, be sure to delve into the rich history and landmarks that make it so unique.

 
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Truman Little White House
111 Front Street - Key West, FL 305-294-9911
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