101. Eyebrow House

Historic Marker number 101 is located at 906 Southard Street between William and Elizabeth Streets.

You are looking at a Key West "eyebrow house." An eyebrow house is a style of architecture, which is unique to the Florida Keys and the Caribbean Islands.

In architecture the windows of a building are often referred to as the "eyes" of the structure. Eyebrow houses got their name due to the overhanging porch roof that partially obscures the second floor windows and protects them from direct sunlight, keeping the house much cooler than it otherwise would have been.

The design had its origins in the living conditions of Key West's sub-tropical climate. Long before electricity was available for fans or residential air conditioning had yet to be invented, this design was part of a high tech cooling system that blocked the sun and took advantage of the cool breezes from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.

Along with the covered windows, eyebrow houses used cooling techniques based on the knowledge that cool air settles and hot air rises. As a result, the house has features such as a raised foundation on blocks or piers to facilitate air circulating beneath the house. Eyebrow houses also have double hung windows made up of an upper and lower sash throughout the entire house. On the first floor, the lower sash of windows were opened to let cooler air into the house and on the upper floor, the upper sash of the windows opened a pathway for escaping hot air. The circulation of cooler air throughout the homes could drop the overall temperature of the building by 5 to 10 degrees.

Another element of eyebrow houses was their wide front porches. The shaded area was a great space to catch a breeze and enjoy an indoor - outdoor living style.