Key West Hotel History
I’d like to welcome you to the Eden House. I bought the hotel in 1975 from Jack Gibson, whose grandfather built it in 1924. It was called the Gibson Hotel. I had been visiting Key West every chance I got starting in 1971, often two and three times a year.
Originally, the Eden House was only the main building. The surrounding buildings were added over the next five or so years. I’ve been told that in the early 70’s, after the military pullout, large Conch houses sold for as little as $3,000. This might give you an idea as to the price I paid in quarterly installments.
The purchase was finalized on October 8, 1975. I had to mortgage my 1968 Dodge van the day before we were to close. I was a thousand dollars short. The bank loaned me $1,500; I had money to spare. Jack kept reminding me that the paid installments would be lost if we didn’t close. Never a doubt.
My idea of running a hotel would be simple: keep the rooms clean, the beds comfortable, the prices reasonable, and have a friendly staff (people who care). How could we go wrong? Respect is essential! I respect my guests and I want this same respect for my hotel, my staff, and my other guests. I know this is not a universal view. That’s why we have chain hotels. All they want is your money.
Well, things were slow. Not owing much, I would close the hotel from June until December. This left lots of time to enjoy the beach and the sleepy lifestyle that brought me here in the first place. Key West is a place where we don’t waste time, we just Kill it! Shoot it right in the Butt! This way, we don’t feel guilty about enjoying ourselves. Read a book from sun up to sun down or do the Duval Crawl-just killing time. I did this until 1989, when the mainland started to find Key West. So, I thought it was time to put in air-conditioning and stay open year round.
The movie Criss Cross starring Goldie Hawn was filmed at the Eden House for five months over the summer of 1990. Scott Summers wrote the short story Criss Cross while staying at the Eden House in early 1976. The movie is average at best, but it does capture the feel of the island in the 70’s. Pictures and memorabilia from the movie can be found throughout the hotel.
I hope you enjoy your stay with us, and I hope you enjoy Key West as much as I do. I’ve often been told, “Key West is a bowl of granola. What’s not fruits and nuts, is flakes.”
Thank goodness & take your pick.