In the late 1800's, Key West, Florida was known for its crystal blue waters, abundant marine life, bustling seaport, and its rich, diverse culture. Whether seeking to salvage priceless treasures that lay beneath the ocean or looking to sell their goods in our town square, visitors came from England, Spain, Cuba, and the Bahamas and immediately found themselves captivated by the majesty of Cayo Hueso, known today as "Key West."
Constructed in 1896, The Southernmost House was built as the family home for Civil War surgeon Dr. Jeptha Vinning Harris and his wife Florida Curry Harris, who was the youngest daughter of Key West's first millionaire, William Curry.
The Harris's took great pride in their magnificent oceanfront home, building it with careful attention to detail and with the finest materials that would withstand treacherous hurricanes and lightening storms. The couple enjoyed hosting guests; however, they valued their privacy even more. So although expansive, the original house was built with just one bedroom and an adjacent guesthouse to accommodate visitors and family. The house's vast size and heightened privacy created the perfect opportunity for it to operate as a Speakeasy during the prohibition years.
The Southernmost House gained real popularity in the early 1940's, when the Ramos family from Spain purchased the home and transformed it into a Cuban Café, called “Café Cayo Hueso”. Both locals and tourists visited the café for cool drinks, Cuban cigars, and authentic cuisine—and according to some old time Conchs, one could enjoy informal gambling on the second floor. During this time, famous celebrities who visited included Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Louis Armstrong and Charles Lindbergh.
After several successful years as the Café Cayo Hueso, The Southernmost House once again became a family home in 1954. The Ramos family undertook a complete refurbishing of the mansion. Upon moving back in, Mrs. Ramos insisted that her husband relocate his infamous Friday night dominoes parties to the recreation building, as she wasn't keen on smoked-filled rooms, the aroma of Cuban cigars, and the mess that resulted from spilled Cuban rum.
The glorious Southernmost House had amazing appeal, beckoning Presidents, royalty, celebrities, and many more. Over the next 40 years, the Ramos family would play host to all of them, including United States Presidents Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, John Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Jimmy Carter. Truman, who had a reputation for wandering around the island in the evenings, would often stop in to relax in the parlor and enjoy a cocktail or two with the friendly company of Mr. and Mrs. Ramos.
Ernest Hemingway, a Key West fixture and an avid horseback rider, visited The Southernmost House so often that he kept his saddle there. Others came and went and came again as often as they could, including King Juan Carlos of Spain. Concerned about security for the young Prince, the Ramos's solved the situation by building a helicopter pad on the south side of the property, enabling their cousin to take a direct route from Miami to Key West. The helicopter pad is still on the grounds today.
Cliff Robertson, Robert Wagner, and Key West's own Tennessee Williams are among others who stayed at the house during the early years.
In 1996, The Southernmost House underwent a $3 million renovation, marvelously restoring this Victorian House into the remarkable bed and breakfast that it is today where each guest room and suite resonate their own unique character. An original Tiffany stained glass canopy hangs in the side veranda, adding stunning character to the bed and breakfast's luxurious ambiance.
Experience our historic oceanfront inn that has seduced guests for more than a hundred years. The Southernmost House will leave an unforgettable impression that you'll treasure for years.