In January 1884 a single black woman, Esther Ann Jones, bought a small cottage bordering the Key West Cemetery on the (then) outskirts of town. Through death, estate, marriage, dowry, trust and development, this historic property is now For Sale. The once 1 Bedroom cottage is now two, centrally air conditioned cottages both with 2 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, large airy rooms, sawtoothed and hardiboard, with pool, brick patio and bricked off street parking for (omigod) two cars. Tropical trees, covered breezeway, large windows and french doors create a living area that moves inside, outside and all around the property.
I researched the Florida Historic section of the Key West Library and the Records Department at Key West Courthouse on Whitehead St. for the following information.
In January 1884 two brothers, Lawrence and Alpheus Lowe, granted title to a single woman, Esther Ann Jones for the property at 812 Windsor Lane, Key West, FL. The single cottage was on a lot approximately 50' wide and 40' deep.
I have the hand written 1884 title that begins "Know all men by these precepts ... ".
In 1912, a gentleman by the name of Joseph G. Wake is shown in a document at the library as residing at 812 Windsor Lane. Mr. Wake was a mason by trade. He is shown again in 1917 living there. No information is shown to indicate if Mr. Wake lived at the house alone or if he was a boader living there with the owner Miss Jones.
Without intervening information, in May 1921, the heirs to the estate of Esther Ann Jones, grant title to Mr. Joseph G. William Wake. Fair thee well Miss Esther.
From this date to present and without interruption, the Wake family owns 812 Windsor Lane.
During the 1920's a married couple, Zerubabel and Amelia Roberts, lived at 727 Poor House Lane. Poor House Lane is just out the front door of 812 Windsor Lane and to the right maybe 50'. Turn right on Poor House Lane and 727 Poor House is another 100' down the lane.
The eldest of the daughters of Zerubabel and Amelia is named Florida.
Sometime prior to November 1923, Florida Roberts marries Joseph Wake. Also sometime prior to November 1923, Mr. Zerubabel Roberts dies; so that in November 1923, heirs to Mr. Roberts' estate grant title of an undisclosed piece of property to Joseph G. William Wake.
Reading the legal description of 812 Windsor Lane before and after this acquisition of property indicates this undisclosed piece of property has increased the size of 812 Windsor Lane to 50' x 80' from the original 50' x 40'.
A 1912 map of the area shows a small dwelling more or less directly behind present day 812 Windsor Lane. This dwelling is addressed as 810 1/2 Windsor Lane. In fact, on older maps, present day 812 Windsor Lane was previously addressed as 810 Windsor Lane.
It is this property at 810 1/2 Windsor Lane, bequeathed to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wake from the estate of Zerubabel Roberts, that nearly doubles the size of the property. From that time to today, the size of the lot has remained unchanged.
In 2004 and 2005 a pair of Quit Claim Deeds are performed from neighbors adjoining 812 Windsor Lane, both settling minor discrepancies in property lines.
Joseph and Florida Wake had three children - Lorraine, Elsie Faye and Wendell.
Following the death of Florida in 1971, Florida's son and youngest, Wendell Wake took over control of the estate. Both Lorraine, who married, and Elsie Faye, who remained single, stayed to live in Key West. Wendell became a physician and moved eventually to Connecticut.
Lorraine Wake died in October 1988. Elsie died in March 2000.
In 2003, Dr. Wake established a Trust with his daughter Cheryl as beneficiary. In 2004, Cheryl's son John was appointed as Special Trustee to oversee the development of 812 Windsor Lane. This renovation and expansion of the original cottage and new construction of the rear cottage occurs throughout 2005 and 2006.
Both Dr. Wake and his wife are deceased but Cheryl still resides in Connecticut.
The property which began so modestly and was owned by a single woman - quite a feat in the 1880's - is now beautifully appointed, modern and has a warm and homey appeal. Thank you Miss Esther for seeing our future so long ago.
Please call me if you'd like to see this charming and historic home. Click here to see a virtual tour of this lovely home, For Sale for $1,292,000.
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