In 1913 the Ferdinand Hirsch Cigar Co., Inc owned and operated one of the most succssful cigar manufacturers in Key West and the US. So successful, that they owned the entire block now defined by Catherine and United Sts., West and East, and Grinnell and Packer Sts., North and South. Hirsch took extra care of their management and many employees by having their homes within this single block. The cigar factory still stands, as a warehouse, plus many homes of that period. No finer example of this era's exceptional architecture exists than the "Craftsman" style home at 1209 Packer St.
Craftsman bungalows are a model for efficient use of space. There are no hallways and the single level construction allows walls to be used for living design and privacy instead of for structural strengthening. There is a commitment to efficiency and flow of light and movement. 1209 Packer uses an open floor plan with bedrooms and bathrooms accessed directly from the living, dining and kitchen areas.
The Craftsman architecture features abundant use of natural light. Banks of windows provide a light-filled, airy environment with optimum cross ventilation. A Craftsman bungalow is energy efficient, convenient, sturdy and enduring.
By Key West standards, 1209 Packer St. is a large house with 2760 square feet.
Externally, Craftsman bungalows feature low-pitched gabled rooflines. 1209 Packer St. is double gabled and double vented. The broad Craftsman front porch is well and fully covered. Craftsman bungalows feature short, square tapered columns that support the front porch roof and typically rest on stone or brick piers. 1209 Packer St. originally featured such columns and piers at only the extreme forward left and right corners. In 2004-5 the entire property was renovated by Toolbox GC of Key West. Among the sterling renovations was the adding of a pair of square tapered columns and rest piers at the center left and center right at the top of the steps entering the front porch.
The Craftsman’s domestically sensible, cozy and unornate architecture lends itself perfectly to imperfect adornments. Such adornments are clearly and historically reflected in the original, multi-color Cuban tiles on the steps leading to and on the floor of the front porch.
Additionally, a 24” x 36” rectangle of Cuban tiles that was originally in the walkway just in front of the steps to the front porch was harvested intact and transplanted to the floor of the amidships bathroom during the 2004 renovation. There are Cuban and American flags in the Cuban tile of the amidships bathroom. I have not seen this feature in any other house in Key West.
In June 1913, the Ferdinand Hirsch Cigar Company sold their property to Mi Favorita Cigar Company, Inc. In October 1923 Mi Favorita Cigar Co. Inc. sold the property to Augustus Woodcock (A.W.) Arnold.
Augustus Woodcock Arnold was descendant from a distinguished and honorable family of Welsh and, through marriage, Irish immigrants. His Welsh family arrived in Massachusettes in 1635 and later settled in Troy, NY. Family members served with recorded distinction as officers in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Arnold earned his spurs in the tobacco industry as a young teenager in Havana, Cuba. There he became an expert in all facets of the industry; planting, harvesting, curing and rolling the tobacco as well as the business of exporting, marketing and profiting from the cigar trade.
Arnold came to Key West and the Ferdinand Hirsch Cigar Co., in 1887, worked himself to General Manager, Chief Executive and Director. In 1913 the properties were sold to Mi Favorita Cigar Co. and in 1923 Arnold bought the business and surrounding properties.
In August 1936 the various sons and daughters, married and single, of A.W. Woodcock, Quit Claimed their rights to Lots 4, 6, 8 and 10 to the eldest Key West born daughter of A.W. Arnold, Marguerite Arnold Witzig. Lots 4, 6, 8 and 10 are along Packer St. Lot 2 is a double lot at the corner of Catherine and Packer Sts.
In 1936 there was a house on Lot 2 but not on any of Lots 4, 6, 8 or 10. From available maps, it looks as if the house at Lot 2 was moved to Lot 4. (Later map showed no house on Lot 2 but a house now on Lot 4). This transport not only took the house off of “busy” Catherine St. but allowed it to now sit on Lot 4 where there was a large cistern. It is on Lot 4 where 1209 Packer St. now resides.
In November 1942 Marguerite Arnold Witzig sold the property to Domingo and Aurora Martinez. This transaction is the first transfer shown in the present legal description and is recorded as E2 260. The present owners acquired the property in 2006.
1209 Packer St. is a historically and architecturally significant piece of Key West. The property includes a heated 14' x 28' pool with Brazilian ipe decking, off-street parking and a properly licensed, fully equipped and furnished 1bedroom/1bathroom apartment.
Listed by Island and Resort Realty, 1209 Packer St. is offered for sale at the excellent price of $1,379,000. (Listing Cancelled by Owner on February 26, 2017).
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