Our Street 1829:
We are located on Fitzpatrick Street in Old Town Key West. Never heard of it? Well you're about to get a lot of future trivia knowledge on why our street is so important to Key West.
On a side note, it is one of the only streets in Key West that is still paved in the original brick, which definitely means it is instagram worthy!
Richard Fitzpatrick played a vital role in the economic and political life when he came to Key West in 1822 at the age of thirty. Fitzpatrick immediately became one of the foremost citizens of the small town. When William AdeeWhitehead finished surveying the island and laying out the town in February, 1829, streets were named after friends and relations of the original proprietors. Fitzpatrick was the only prominent citizen of Key West after which a street was named.
Why was he so well known? He was the only authorized auctioneer of all the wrecked property brought to Key West ,and held a variety of other governmental positions in the 1820's. He was Clerk of the County Court in 1827 and was foreman of the Monroe County Grand Jury and member of the first Town Council of Key West to name only a few of his political standings during his early years in Key West.
Outside of his tertiary roles in the Key West powerstructure, Fitzpatrick owned the a wrecking boat named the Eagle. While we do not know any specifics about the sloop Eagle during the time of its ownership by Fitzpatrick, we have more information about Fitzpatrick's subsequent ownership of another wrecking boat; by at least 1834, Fitzpatrick had become the owner of the schooner Florida of Key West. In the subsequent fiscal year in 1835, the schooner Florida had a huge success, when she received two-fifths of the value of the salvage of the brig Sea Drift. Wrecks such as the Sea Drift were what later made Key West the richest city per capita in the United States. Of the salvage worth over $50,000, Fitzpatrick and the Florida received $20,600. Even after giving the crew their share, Fitzpatrick had certainly realized quite a profit.
By 1830, Fitzpatrick decided to broaden his economic activities beyond the wrecking business to attempt salt-making. He leased an interest in the Whitehead portion of the Key West ponds. From the first days of Key West, according to Jefferson Browne who authored the book Key West: The Old and the New, "the original proprietors and first settlers of Key West considered the manufacture of salt as the most probable means of making it known in the commercial world." With his popularity growing because of his saltmaking activity, Fitzpatrick ran for Florida's Legislative Council in 1830. Fitzpatrick's election to the territory's Legislative Council in 1830 was the beginning of one of the most extraordinary legislative careers of any legislator in Florida's Territorial period. Only a few other men were as influential, and very few matched Fitzpatrick's record of election victories. Fitzpatrick served as the Representative from Monroe from 1830-1832 and again from 1835-1836 and two reigns as Dade's Representative as well.
One interesting piece of legislature Fitzpatrick worked on involved passing a bill to overturn the 1829 law which had made duelling illegal. Fitzpatrick was the Chairman of the committee which reported the pro-duelling bill to the floor, and his one affirmative vote proved crucial in the 8-7 vote passing the bill! No need to worry though, this is no longer a legal form of upholding honor. We recommend buying your nemesis a beer because according to chemistry, alcohol is a solution!
Our Building 1957:
Flash foward to 1957. Our building at 112 Fitzpatrick Street was sold to Lopez Wholesale Liquors Inc. Lopez Wholesale Liquors Inc. was opened in Key West in 1886 by the Aquilino Lopez Sr. family. Lopez Liquors was the oldest Spanish-owned Budweiser fanchise in the country. In 1917 Hilaro Ramos came to live with the Lopez family from his home country in Spain. In 1933 Hilaro Ramos assumed presidency of Lopez Liquors. It grew to become the largest company in the Florida Keys, and after World War II, represented every major liquor company in the United States. In 1943, Ramos received a call from Adolphus Busch III, the head of Anheuser-Busch, and was asked if he could arrange a fishing trip for Busch's friend, Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman. Mr. Ramos arranged a weekend at his Big Pine Key Fishing Camp. It was Truman's first visit to the Keys and he immediatly fell in love with the area. After becoing president, Truman made Key West his "winter Whitehouse." Hilario Ramos was also the founder of Florida Keys First State Bank and Boulevard Bank of Key West (now Barnett Bank).
Lopez Liquors was passed to Hilario "Charles" Ramos Jr. and his siblings upon his father's passing in 1989. Charlie, as his friends called him, was the publisher of the Key West Morning Star newspaper and politics was in his blood. He was elected to both the Key West City Commission and the Monroe County Commission. In 1962, he ran for the state legislature against Bernie Papy, "King of the Keys." In one of the greatest upsets of local political history, Charlie (age 25) defeated Mr. Papy, ending a 28 year one-man domination over Monroe County politics.
Our Neighborhood 1963:
Historic Pirate's Alley!
If you're walking around near our pub, look for Wolkowsky Street! David Wolkowsky is credited with putting Key West on the road to being a major tourist destination. David Wolkowsky is an American developer from Key West. 1993, the city of Key West named one of its smallest streets after one of its biggest citizens. In honor of Wolkowsky's role in reviatlizing a city that turned almost into a deserted village when the U. S. Navy pulled out in the depressed years that followed World War II. The street is considered the oldest in Key West, dating back to 1823 when it ran from the water, past the home of the early settler family, the Clintons, which later became the site for the old Coast Guard building that today fronts on Clinton Place. Wolkowsky also designed Historic Pirate's Alley, which featured shops tucked into a bricked courtyard. The entrance of Pirate's Alley is still visable from Front Street, one block from our pub. A few steps from our front door is another entrance to what once was Pirate's Alley. If you follow it through, you'll see an old wooden door marked Pirate's Den, which led to a bar featuring topless dancing. We are not quite sure where the door leads now, you'll just have to see for yourself!
The most well known shop in Pirates Alley was started by Eleanor Walsh. The Original Key West Cigar Factory was home to famous cigar maker, Talmaege Culmer, widely recognized as the "last of the original Key West cigar makers." From 1963 until her death 2003, Eleanor Walsh grew The Original Key West Cigar Factory by taking care of her customers.
Walsh always believed in giving customers something more than they expected, so she always included a book of matches with every purchase. The shop remained much the same throughout the 70's, 80's and early 90's. Eleanor's two daughters and even her granddaughter were involved in running the business along with long-time associate Paul Cavanaugh. In 1997 the shop was expanded and remodeled to include a new entrance on Front Street. Tragically, a fire in 2002 closed the store and the business transitioned to a mail-order business until January 2007 when it closed.
We are sure there are countless other stories that have deep rooted history, right here on Fitzpatrick Street. Stop by to take some unique vacation photos and get an inside look at the heart of Old Town Key West!