121. George Henry Curry Mansion

This mansion was built by George Henry Curry in 1886. George Curry was the third eldest child of eight William Curry children. The Curry's were an influential family. William Curry rose quickly through the ranks of local merchants to become Florida's first millionaire. The family's most visible legacy is the seven mansions they built following the "Great Fire" of 1886. It is believed that William Curry gave each of his children $10,000.00 dollars to jump start their building ambitions.

Most of the mansions were built in Key West's Historic District close to the original Curry house with the lone exception of the youngest child. Florida Curry chose to build one of the grandest mansions on the relatively undeveloped beach on the southernmost side of the island.

George Curry's mansion was built close to the heart of the Curry business empire at the Historic Seaport. Much of the family's wealth had come from the sailing and ship wreck industry during the 1800s. Instead of chasing ship wrecks, William Curry built his wealth and prosperity on supplying the local shipping community with the basic needs of the sailing and wrecking businesses.

By the mid-1800s, Key West had grown into the largest city in Florida. The Curry family expanded their business interests to serving the ice and electric power needs of the unprecedented growth of the community.

George Curry was simultaneously the president of the Key West Light and Power Company and the Key West Ice Company. The fishing industry relied on a ready supply of ice to pack their catches for transportation to market. Refrigeration as we know it today did not exist. The Curry plant used an ammonia based process to produce ice. While effective, the threat of an ammonia explosion was always present.

The Curry's electric plant was one of three power factories on the island. It was built to handle the lighting and power needs of the Curry businesses centered in the Historic Seaport.

Shortly after George Curry's death at the age of 55 in 1906, the three competing power plants, including Curry's Key West Light and Power Plant were combined and purchased by Stone and Webster. In 1943, the City acquired the unified plants creating City Electric. Apparently George's stately mansion was part of the power plant sale. In 1911, records list the mansion as a Bachelors Quarters for the electric company.

It is also known that George Curry's wife, Caroline Albury, had moved to a house on the Atlantic side of the island that was destroyed by a devastating hurricane in 1909. This Curry mansion was built during the height of Key West's prosperity. It has survived tropical storms, the effects of a sub-tropical climate, numerous owners, and the ups and downs of the islands economy. Today the mansion has been lovingly restored and serves as a single family residence. It is part of the legacy of the Curry family and their seven mansions that grace the Key West Historic District.