William Joseph Curry was born in 1821 on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas. He was a poor white Bahamian that immigrated to Key West for economic opportunity. When he arrived penniless from the Bahamas in 1837 at the age of 15, Key West was the wealthiest town in the state, in fact the island was the richest per capita of any city in America. The economy was ruled largely by the wrecking industry, a hotspot for shipwrecked merchant and sailing ships whose precious cargo would be salvaged by watchful citizens for immense profits.
Curry started as a clerk in the office of Weaver and Baldwin where he climbed the corporate ladder. Over the next 40 years he built an empire of wrecking, merchandising and ship building. He was the first-self made millionaire in the state of Florida and when he died he was the richest man in the state.
Curry married Euphemia in 1844 and together they had 8 children. They built the Curry House in 1855.
By most accounts local lore has it that in the kitchen the house cook nicknamed “Aunt Sally” made the first keylime pie.
In 1905 Curry’s son Milton almost completely demolished the house except for only the original stone hearth and brick chimney. It was rebuilt as a Victorian mansion that still stands today thanks to the slow growing tree called Dade County pine which was a resinous wood that made the species rigid and strong accounting for its inherent resistance to rot and insects. This is one of the reasons the mansion remained in pristine condition over its 105 years. With its decorative carved wooden interiors from birds eye maple, the sprawling 3 story 28 room mansion is aglow with the lights of its crystal chandeliers.
Today the mansion is a historic bed breakfast full of antiques in a quaint setting with beautiful landscapes located on Caroline street just off Route 1.
Paula Garland FL Key West Dec 16, 2022 History Nostalgia Places to Stay