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Category: Keys History


Conch Republic Independence events will take place through April 25, featuring sunset sails, bar crawls, pool bar crawls, a Saturday street fair and a host of other outrageous activities. Visit conchrepublic.com for a full schedule and online registration for individual events. “The city has been extremely supportive of these events,” said producer Jim Gillernan. “Key West Mayor Teri Johnston felt safe enough to come to our Wearable Art Fashion Show at Key West Theater because we’ve strictly followed protocols and we didn’t embarrass the city.” Here’s how the whole Conch Republic craze started,...

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KKK connection prompts Key West housing board to rename public housing complex

The board of the Key West Housing Authority on April 19 voted unanimously to change the name of JY Porter Place public housing apartments in light of concerns about Porter’s connections to the Ku Klux Klan. The same board is also committed to making its meetings more accessible to the public and to creating a resident advisory board to give residents of public housing a voice. The JY Porter Place housing complex at the end of White Street will be renamed, as proposed by City Commissioner Clayton Lopez, for Lang B. Milian, the second black man ever elected to the Key West city commission...

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For those who have spent time driving up and down the Keys, they have seen the green and white road signs announcing the names of the scores of islands stitched together by the asphalt and bridges used to build the Overseas Highway. Some of the islands are better known than others. Anyone with even a whiff of familiarity with the Keys recognizes names like Key West and Key Largo. Islands connected by the highway like Knights Key, Big Pine, Bahia Honda, maybe even Ramrod Key, have less familiar names. That last one, Ramrod Key, found in the area of MM 26, was named after the ship Ramrod that...

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History & Discovery Center adding tombstone of ‘Wrecker King’

A permanent exhibit featuring the tombstone of the early-19th-century wrecker John Jacob Housman, whose remains are thought to be buried on Indian Key, will be added to the collection of exhibits at Keys History & Discovery Center.  A capital campaign is being launched to raise funds for this $75,000 project. The new permanent exhibit will be on the second floor of the museum and will feature a series of free-standing interpretive panels and additional historical stories about Indian, Lignumvitae, Windley and Tea Table Keys. The existing Indian Key model 1840 will move to the second floor...

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Spottswood.  The surname as synonymous with Key West as Hemingway represents a legacy of leadership, innovation and community dedication, and those who capably carry the name today continue the tradition.  Today’s elder Spottswood leaders — Jack, Robert, Bill and their sister Fawnie — grew up on Caroline Street with a father who thought fervently of the future while working also to protect Key West’s people and preserve the island’s valuable past. John M. Spottswood, who fathered and raised Jack, Robert, Bill and Fawnie, with their mother, Mary, is often remembered for his eight years in the...

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Southernmost Skunk Ape Society reports 1929 sighting at Bat Tower

In the summer of 1977, documents indicating the presence of a large, hairy, bipedal creature with a strong odor in the Florida Keys were discovered in the attic of a Key West home. The documents reported events dating back to the 16th century. The Southernmost Skunk Ape Society was established to investigate these found documents and augment them with additional research and analysis where possible. The short-lived society ceased following the unexplained disappearance of its co-founder on October 18, 1977.  Among the items discovered were notes about Sugarloaf Key’s Bat Tower. For decades it...

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