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  • Key West Florida Hotel History

Explore Historic Key West, Florida

Discovered in 1513 by Ponce de Leon during his search for the Fountain of Youth, Key West has been a draw to pirates, fortune hunters, farmers, fishing enthusiasts, and sun worshipers for hundreds of years. In 1822, the U.S. Navy established a fleet in the area, with pineapple and lime farms, canneries and wrecking operations springing up almost overnight. Cigar makers and sponge harvesters also set out to make their fortunes in the Keys, but railroad tycoon Henry Flagler was the first to establish Key West as a vacation destination. By 1889 Key West was the largest and most prosperous city in Florida.
 
Many regular visitors began to build vacation homes on the island, with notable names like Ernest Hemingway, President Harry Truman, Tennessee Williams, and John James Audubon calling Key West home for at least a portion of the year. After World War II, the tourism industry gained strength and the island became even more popular. Contemporary notable part time residents include Jimmy Buffet (Musician), Judy Blume (Children's Author), Calvin Klein (Designer), Kelly McGillis (Actress) and Ketih Strickland (musician and founding member of the B-52's). Today the city hosts more than three million visitors each year.
 

La Concha Hotel & Spa - a Key West Landmark

In 1926 developer Carl Aubuchon opened his luxury hotel - the first of its kind on Key West. Boasting marble floors, private baths, luxurious décor, an elevator, and sweeping ocean views, the hotel was considered to be the height of elegance and modern convenience. Many famous guests have stayed at the landmark La Concha hotel over the years, including literary legends and dignitaries like Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Harry Truman.
 

Haunted History

The historic hotel is steeped in an intriguing and haunting history. From accidental deaths to questionable circumstances, La Concha has a reputation for hosting the tormented souls of guests long-gone. Guests swap stories of bursts of cold air, vanishing chardonnay and quiet sounds of whimpering from unknown spirits. Step out into Old Key West to experience historical sights like Mallory Square, The Hemingway House and the Key West Aquarium just around the corner.

One of La Concha's most notable ghost stories concerns an unlucky waiter who was helping clean up a New Year's Eve party in the ‘80s. Unknowingly, he backed into an open elevator shaft and plummeted to his untimely death. Some guests report hearing his screams to this day.

As the tallest building in Key West, La Concha Hotel & Spa has served as the location of a number of suicides. The hotel used to house a rooftop bar and one story tells of a man who ordered a glass of white wine, drank the wine and then jumped to his death. Over the years, bartenders have claimed to have white wine knocked out of their hands, possibly at the amusement of one of the spirits.

Ernest Hemingway spent most of his Key West time at La Concha and even finished A Streetcar Named Desire within its walls. He used to request the same suite every time he visited and after his passing, the hotel recognized the room as the "Hemingway Suite." Guests who dare to spend the night in his room are supposedly awoken regularly in the night by moving objects and the TV being turned on.
 
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