The city of Key West is built on stories – some fabled and some true.
Preserved as historic landmarks, the buildings of the Marquesa Hotel tell their own story, as intriguing as the city they live within.
600 Fleming street
James Haskins built this house in 1884. It missed the sweep of Key West’s catastrophic fire of 1886 by just 20 feet. The house was originally a single-family dwelling, but over time, it went through several changes. The street level, where Café Marquesa is now housed, was altered in 1889 to accommodate a “Gent’s Goods” clothing store, and later became Fausto’s Food Palace and a furniture store.
The main house became a prim and proper boarding house in the early 1900s, and was later converted into family apartments in the 1950s. By the mid 1970s, the once lovely interior was partitioned into a ramshackle series of small rooms known as “Q-Rooms” for quiet accommodations. There were 21 sleeping spaces with three bathrooms which were rented on a weekly basis.
The building was purchased by Key West general contractors Richard Manley and Erik deBoer in 1987 from the Archdiocese of New York. James Haskin’s daughter, who had become a nun, willed the property upon her death to the order of Catholic nuns in New York.
After extensive renovation and restoration, the Haskins house was reopened as the Marquesa Hotel and Café Marquesa in February 1988. The Hotel was expanded in 1994 with the addition of two neighboring historic buildings.
414 Simonton street
This exquisite building was the private residence of William Kerr, a renowned Irish American architect. Born in Ireland in 1836 and educated in Boston, Massachusetts, he moved to Key West in 1872, where he worked as an architect, contractor, and builder. He built the “Carpenter Gothic-style” cottage in 1878. The style derives its name from an architectural style known for its use of Gothic Revival architectural detailing. Often these buildings were built by house carpenters who were free to improvise detailing to emphasize the charm and quaintness of the normally simple wooden buildings.
The former Kerr House was purchased in 2015, and the next-door Pilot House Inn was purchased in 2016. Construction on a new pool and rear building was completed in 2017 but was not officially opened as Marquesa 414 until 2018 due to Hurricane Irma.
The two historic buildings and one new building with pool, the historic “Cook House” where all cooking was originally done, now comprise Marquesa 414.