Built in 1956, this patioed and balconied structure typifies the Caribbean and Key West architecture and atmosphere the builders of Duck Key were trying to create.
The design of buildings on Duck Key has changed several times over the years. Early Caribbean influences gave way to designs modified by changes in building codes. Stilted home predominate but in recent years changes in codes have allowed living space closer to the ground. These trends together with development and land ownership changes have brought a mix of home designs to Duck Key. Advances in design, and added color choices in stucco and multicolored roofing materials have further changed the apearance of homes on the island. The most recent influence has been the construction of Hawk's Cay Village with its "conch style houses" on Indies Island, the commercially zoned portion of Duck Key.
West Indian and Key West style Architecture
The design of the first homes to be built on Duck Key was influenced by West Indian and Key West style Architecture. The Caribbean theme was the inspiration of Gene Otto, a widely known Key West artist. According to Otto, all the houses were to have "earth-colored tile roofs, with wide overhanging eaves like so many older houses encountered at Key West, Jamaica and other Caribbean islands." The first private residences built and now owned by the Davises, Smithwichs, Wolfes, Kogers, and Brown and Root all kept to the West Indian architectural theme.
The oldest remaining structure pictured above and a dominant focal point on Duck Key is the resort's Administration Building which is built in a West Indian style. This charming architectural prize rests peacefully just off Duck Key Drive and the entrance to Hawk's Cay. Surrounded by a green jungle of tropical trees, palms, and banana plants, the building gives a feeling of solidity and permanence as though it must have been on the island since the days of wreckers in Key West and the Florida Keys.
The interior of the Administration Building's upper floor has undergone many changes from its original design, but the upper chambers still surround a narrow spiral steel stairway leading to what was once an observation deck from which guests and prospective buyers could view the island.
Visitors entered rooms shaded by plantation blinds and looked out windows which were of double hung sash construction. Fifties-style aluminum jalousie windows were not considered as they did not fit the West Indian architectural theme. The interior walls were hung with a tropical wall paper picturing vines and monkeys. Built to last and at considerable expense the building has stood the test of time.
Villas Pierre and Jamaica
Just down the road from the Administration Building two other original resort buildings can still be seen. At the corner of Duck Key Drive and Greenbriar Lane is the present-day residence of Lilo Hagsbeck with its botel advertisement sign. Given the name Villa Jamaica, this attractive bungalow was first owned by developer Bryan Newkirk's associate, Vice Admiral Telfair Knight. Across the street the two-storied building with its curved stairways was called Villa Pierre and was used to accommodate guests.
Most homes on Duck Key are elevated on stilts. This raised building took place from the 70s to the present to satisfy Federal laws and local building codes enacted because of flood surges associated with hurricanes. Subsequent changes in the law allowed home owners to enclosed this lower portion provided the space is only used for storage.
In recent years the elevation has lessened with new data for the 100 year flood plain average and many new homes have living space closer to the ground .
High Rises and Condominiums
The 2, 3 and 4 story condominium buildings on Duck Key were constructed by different developers prior to 1982. Monroe County laws changed its building codes in the 80's and all buildings residential and commercial are limited to 34 feet in height.
Two hundred and twenty plus conch houses were erected between 1998 and 2000 as a result of resort expansion. What is a Conch House? The Conch Houses at Hawks Cay Village resemble the classic conch houses of Key West, but utilize modern standards for construction in the Florida Keys as well as advances in energy efficiency.
The classic Conch House has multicultural roots from the Bahamas, New England, and Africa. Hand-crafted of wood and constructed by seafaring carpenters, conch house architecture utilizes Gulf Coast building forms, the well proportioned architecture of the New England seacoast, and tropical adaptations of housing from the Caribbean. A close look at a classic Conch House reveals an energy-efficient, and sensible design for living in the tropics.
More Detailed Information
CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW for information on Duck Key's architecture, its Venetian style bridges, trees, and efforts at beautification.
386 East Seaview Drive
Duck Key, Florida 33050