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Duck Key in the Florida Keys

An Information Guide to Duck Key in the Florida Keys


 

 

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Reservations at Hawk's Cay Resort through our sister site Florida Keys Best.

 

  Historic Highlights of Duck Key

1959 - SEC News Digest on formation of Floroida Southern Land Corporation

Florida Southern Land Corporation is formed by Newkirk in 1959. Earlier in 1956 the Duck Key properties were owned by Newkirk under several different entities. In 1956 Newkirk Realty owned 2,750,000 common shares. Newkirk Realty Corporation was said to have expended $l.731,362 on the properties.

 

Highlights 1960 to Present

January 1960 - The 100 room Indies House hotel opens at $20-$30 for a double room, European plan.

Indies House invitation

  Indies House Opening announcement - Duck Key

 

Indies House image Indies House image

Indies House image 

Clicking on a picture in some instances will produce a larger photo with greater color definition and clarity.

February 1960 - Duck Key gets a Post Office. The Indies House established what is thought to be one of the smallest and most unusual post offices in the United States. The Duck Key Post Office was housed in a five by five foot converted tile bathroom located in the hotel's executive office area. Resort developer Bryan Newkirk announced that a mural on the post office wall would portray a scene showing transportation of mail by sailboat.

early Keys mailboat

Mail by sailboat was the manner of mail delivery in the early days of the Florida Keys.

 

The Post Office served residents and guests of the luxury resort.

Duck Key post office

Above image is of a post card stamped with the words Duck Key February 16, 1960 and Craig, Florida. Mail was transferred to the Craig Key Post Office from Duck Key. Clicking on image above will produce a larger representation.

 

Below are several post card images from December 1961 showing the early Indies House and the reverve side with text and the Duck Key cancellation mark.

Aerial view of palatial buildings, gorgeous pool with golf course and
yacht basin at the fabulous INDIES HOUSE, Duck Key, Florida.

Click on above image for larger representation

 

click on image to see Duck Key cancellation mark

The message reads

"Greetings from Duck Key.This is a fabulous spot. 1 1/2 hours south of Miami and Key West - great place for a battery charge and known for bone fishing. Drown here for quite a few days before returning to the regions of the NY climate!

See you soon - and happy Birthday"

 

An image of a 1963 postcard appears further down below.

September 1960 - Hurricane Donna strikes causing $1 million damage to the Indies House and the several homes existing on the island.

The Duck Key Post Office functioned until Hurricane Donna visited the island. The eye of Hurricane Donna passed over Duck Key at 2 AM on September 9, 1960. Duck Key was spared the sea surge, but more than a foot of rain and water poured down from the ceiling in the hotel's main dining room. Donna caused a million dollars worth of damage to Duck Key's homes and resort facilities. The Indies House closed for repairs and further improvements and the resort did not reopen until December.

The mail cancellation stamp on the postcard above also includes the Postal Office name of Craig. The Craig Post Office was established in 1933, and functioned as a post office with the exception of a brief period until 1963. The Craig Post Office closed and postal services were transferred to Long Key in July  1963.  The name Craig, Florida was changed officially to Craig Key in 1971 by the state of Florida, because the Craig Post Office no longer existed. For more on Craig Key go to http://www.keyshistory.org/CRK-Craig-Key.html

The Indies House reopened after Huricane Donna repairs, but shortly after that Bryan Newkirk sold out his interest in the island. Newkirk died in 1966 at age seventy-seven.

In 1961, the Indies House was leased to E.A. Stephens for $150,000. Stevens was the owner of the famous Tides Inn of Virginia. Stevens purchased the Indies House for $2,250,000 along with the rights to sell lots on Duck Key. Several years passed with no success in selling homesites.

Tides Inn ad for Indies House

Tides Inn ad for Indies House

Tides Innnewspaper ad for Indies House 1962

"TRULY THE PLACE WHERE NICE PEOPLE MEET

An informal elegance rarely
found in the world today
a Caribbean Island with the
beauty and charm of the
West Indies yet in the U.S.A.
on the exotic Florida Keys

You will see one of the world's most beautiful small resorts.
You will bask in Florida's warmest winter sun.
You will fish in Florida's most famous fishing waters.
You will dance under the stars on your"own "movie set"
You will golf, cruise, swim, picnic, play tennis, etc.
You will be fascinated by the interesting sightseeing trips.
You will see wrecks of old pirate ships out of the past.
You will drive over a famous scenic route.
You will enjoy an exciting entertainment program.
you will see the Gulf and the Atlantic join hands to give you
an array of colors that will thrill your artistic senses.
You will dine in the true sense of the word, from bone china,
with English silver in our candle lit dining room.
You will enjoy the friendliness and happiness that has
given rebirth to the Southern tradion of hospitality..

 

1963-1964

 

Indies House 1963 brochure

August 1963 - Hotel is in bankruptcy. Garvis Kincad, owner of the Kentucky Central Life Insurance Company buys Indies House and the island of Duck Key for $2.07 million and hires the Jack Tar Management Co. to manage the hotel.

Cover of brochure prepared by the Jack Tar Management Corporation for 1964 season shown to the left.

Garvis Kincaid who owned a number of banks and radio stations also purchased a majority interest in Marathon's radio station and the Marathon State Bank. Kincaid sells the Indies House in 1964.

 

February 1962 - Below another postcard which shows a 4 bar cancellation of Duck Key, Florida, dated Feb. 6, 1962.

A twilight view of the fabulous iNDIES HOUSE at Duck Key, Florida. The evenings are enchanting. 

The vacationers wrote, "This is marvelous - daytime at 75 gegrees with golf, fishing, swimming, tandem bike riding, Evenings under the stars with dancing etc. all fun and relaxing and healthy - . . . with us.

Hope and Wally

 

November 1963 - Duck Key consists of a hotel, a pool, and golf course and five houses.

December 1963 - The Indies House post card below provides evidence of a Duck Key Post Office in use in 1963. The card's image below shows a panarama of the Indies Inn pool and swimming lagoon. The message portion of the card is also shown together with the partially visible postal stamp showing DU K KEY.  

Duck Key postal

 

panorama of Indies Inn, Duck Key

Click for larger image

text of Indies Inn, Duck Key postcard

Message:

Hi you all,
We have been all the way down the West coast and down to Key West but no place we have seen can compare with this place. It is simply beautiful and a lot more developed with flowers and shrubs than the picture shows. It is very warm here and we have been swimming, golfing on a Par 3 course, tennis with the boys and today we really had a ball. We went out deep sea fishing and it was simply wonderful. We caught 56 Kingfish, 2 Barracuda and a 6 ft. sailfish which Howd is having mounted. This place is much prettier than Nassau but you would think you were in the Islands. I hate to leave here, but we are going to start up the way.
Love The Barrs

 

Winter 1963-64 - Former President Harry Truman and family stay at Indies House (see Truman).

 

1963 to1971 - Hotel and Island changes ownership five more times.

1964 - The Canaveral International Corporation buys Duck Key. Canaveral hires E. A Stephen to manage the facility. Room rentals prove insufficient and the Indies House is only kept open for two months. No lots are sold but during this time Canaveral realizing the need for employee housing constructs a 24 unit apartment building. Two guest villas are also built.

1965 - Indies House becomes the property of Miami lawyers Jerome Weinkle and Alan Kessler. They change the name of Indies House to Sheraton Indies House and the hotel becomes part of the Sheraton Chain. Weinkle and Kessler are experienced in the hotel business and own a number of Dutch Inn and Holiday Inn motels. Their promotion of the Sheraton Indies meets with little success.

1966 - The Fallon Smith Corporation buys Duck Key in 1966. They assume a mortgage of several million plus satisfy an existing obligation to the Canaveral Corporation with stock and land from Fallon Smith.

Sheraton Indies becomes the Indies House once again. Fallon Smith begins improving the facility. Landscaping improvements are made, a new marina is built, a breakwater by the marina is constructed, a new concrete bridge connecting Duck Key with the Overseas Highway is added. To attract more patrons a 400 seat conventional center is constructed. Some lots on the island are sold.

1967 Indies House postcard

1967 postcard of Indies House with 100 rooms

1971 - Herb Cameron buys the Indies House together with Indies Island, the commercially zoned portion of Duck Key.

1974 - Cameron is unsuccessful in an attempt to build seven 16-story condominium buildings. Cameron did not have the support of the island's homeowners and also meets with strong opposition from Monroe County officials.

1976 - Cameron adds sixty rooms to the Indies Inn. A fifth floor restaurant is added to one wing also.

February 1975 - The island of Duck Key numbers 80 private homes.

1977 - Herb Cameron sells his ownership to Miami developer, Joseph Klien in a lease option contract for $9.4 million. The new owner's concept of selling time shares of the hotel never really gets off the ground and Cameron reassumes control after several months because Klein is unable live up to the contract.

1978 to 1983 - The hotel expands to 159 rooms and changes ownership twice more.

1983 - Cameron sells Indies Inn to the Barrington Group for $10.5 million.

Press Release June 15, 1983 - Three page Press Release announcing sale by DLKLS, Inc. a Florida Corporation owned solely by Herbert Cameron of the Indies Inn and Marina to the Duck Key Club Corporation. The Duck Key Club Corporation was formed by James Cohee and Bruce Barrington of the Barrington Group of Pompano Beach. The hotel and marina close for several months for refurbishing, upgrading of the marina, and adding of tennis courts

pages 1. 2, and 3

 

January 1984 - Hotel reopens as Hawk's Cay Resort under the Barrington Group with 178 rooms and begins an expansion plan of condominium villas. Only complete 22 villas by 1993.

1993 - There are 300 residential dwellings on Duck Key

1996 to 2000 - Resort gains approval to build 223 conch style town house villas. All are completed by the summer of 2001. Pritam Singh is the developer.

2000 - There are 350 residential houses on the island

2001 - Club Duck Key is completed in February of 2001

2002 - Resort and developer Singh propose building additional units on indies Island in exchange for some funding and waste treatment piping and sewer treatment of Duck Key residential islands. Community group "Concerned Citizens" opposes expansion and sewering of residential island by Singh. County Commission decides Conch Key which was to be part of sewer package will build its own plant.

2003 - Pritam Singh gains permission from the Florida Department Community Affairs to build an additional 28 units on Duck Key by purchasing the old Overseas Motel in Marathon and transferring development rights. He also build a number of housing units for use by resort employees.

2007 - Barrington Group sells Hawks Cay Resort  to Beringer Harvard and Northview Hotel Group. Properties undergo an extensive remodeling. Original Indies Hotel and Inn building is gutted and completely rebuilt.

 

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