Historic Marker 13 is located at 410 Wall Street on Mallory Square.
William Wall was shipwrecked in Key West in 1824. Although the island had less than 600 inhabitants he chose to make it home until his death in 1866. Mr. Wall pioneered Key West’s cigar industry in 1831 and was the first Key Wester to own a cigar factory from which he amassed a substantial fortune.
The warehouse was constructed by his descendants in 1879. The structure is an excellent example of late 19th century commercial architecture. A marble plaque above the front entry door reads “ERECTED A.D. 1879 Wall & Co.”
Asa Tifts was the first owner of the building including the surrounding docks and “coal pockets”. The “pockets” were large coal storage bins used to supply the massive steam powered motors of the shipping lines connecting Key West to the world.
During the late 1880’s and 90’s Key West’s thriving cigar trade needed coal to serve shipping lines connecting Key West to Havana, New York, Tampa and Galveston. The United States Navy also recognized the need to have “coaling stations” across the world so its ships would always have a reliable source of coal to maintain supremacy of the seas. Due to the building’s strategic location for shipping the warehouse was acquired by the United States Navy and converted into Naval Station #2.
The Navy dredged Key West’s harbor from 1888 thru 1897 to allow the Great White Naval Fleet access to the waterfront. The fleet included the Battleship Maine prior to its fatal voyage to Havana.
The tragedy of the Maine was the final flashpoint between the U.S. and Spain. With the battle cry of “Remember the Maine” the United States declared war against Spain in 1898. Throughout the Spanish American War Naval Station #2 served as a vital link for supplies and a lifeline for soldiers.
Following the war, a surge in economic development of Cuba by the United States made Key West the destination point for businessmen and entrepreneurs on their way to Cuba.
Mallory Square and the Wall Warehouse are considered to be one of the best places to catch the sun setting over our island paradise.
The waterfront behind the Warehouse is no longer the industrial, military and fishing harbor it once was. The coal storage is gone along with the storage tanks and many of the original docks. The area now known as Mallory Square was turned over to the city of Key West and is the home of daily sunset celebrations. The docks are home to hundreds of cruise ships a year bringing millions of tourists to discover the charms of our unique island.
The Wall Warehouse is a living history collection of Cuban Key West, complete with historic photographs as well as dioramas of the islands rich Cuban American heritage based on the paintings of famous Key West folk artist Mario Sanchez.
Be sure to see the sculpture memorial garden next to the warehouse. There you can see life sized, bronze busts of famous Key West founders, businessmen and local characters.
Research provided by Dr. Loy Glenn Westfall.