KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Restored cigar-makers’ cottages and lavish Victorian mansions stand side by side on Key West’s narrow streets, creating an intriguing architectural fusion in the historic Old Town district.
Visitors can explore houses exemplifying that architectural heritage, as well as unique examples of contemporary Florida Keys design, during home tours scheduled for December 2017 and January, February and March 2018.
Now in their 58th year, the annual tours are presented by the nonprofit Old Island Restoration Foundation.
The foundation was established in 1960 to promote the restoration and preservation of Key West’s historically significant buildings. The island’s Old Town contains what is believed to be the largest predominantly wooden historic district in the United States, featuring almost 3,000 structures.
The first tour is scheduled 3-7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 27-28, spotlighting a group of homes festively dressed for the holidays. Participants can explore them at their own pace, enjoying a leisurely sample of seasonal spirit.
Subsequent tours are planned Friday and Saturday, Jan. 12-13, Feb. 16-17 and March 16-17. Each one showcases multiple homes chosen for being significant historic buildings, creative renovations, distinctive modern design or examples of the Keys lifestyle.
Tour participants can discover unique interiors filled with art collections and antiques as well as lush gardens and imaginatively designed outdoor living areas. Through the tours, visitors have a rare chance to gain intimate insights into Key West living.
OIRF volunteers serve as guides at each tour stop, informing visitors about each featured house’s history, architecture and décor.
The January tours are set for 3-7 p.m. both days. Participants can explore the homes at their own pace, or can book tour seats on Key West’s renowned Conch Train. Conch Train seating is limited, so early reservations are encouraged.
The February and March tours are offered 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with visitors responsible for their own transportation.
Advance-purchase tickets for each tour cost $30 per person and include a list of houses and a map. January tour tickets with Conch Train transportation cost $40 per person. Ticket prices increase $5 on tour days.
Tour information and ticketing: oirf.org or 305-294-9501
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY