Restored cigar-makers cottages and gingerbread-trimmed 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 and contemporary island design during weekend house and garden tours set for February and March 2013.
Tours are planned Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15-16 and March 15-16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Each is to showcase multiple homes, ranging from exquisite restorations to creative renovations, and the interior design that complements their architecture and adds a unique Key West flavor.
Now in their 53rd year, the tours are hosted by the nonprofit Old Island Restoration Foundation, created in 1960 to promote the restoration and preservation of historically significant Key West structures. Foundation volunteers serve as guides at each stop, informing visitors about the featured houses and their highlights.
Key West's historic district includes almost 3,000 structures, many of them built by shipbuilder-carpenters and cigar manufacturing barons in the 1800s. The islands architecture reflects the building styles and cultures of its early settlers.
Visitors are responsible for providing their own transportation.
Tickets for each tour cost $30 per person and can be purchased in advance at www.oirf.org. Proceeds from the tours benefit the foundations programs to preserve Key West's architecture and cultural heritage.
The foundation also hosts holiday house tours in late December each year and presents the annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest every spring.
Tour information and ticketing: www.oirf.org or 305-294-9501
Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
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