14. The Neighborhood Store

Historic Marker 14 is located at 600 Frances Street on the corner of Frances and Southard Streets.

This building was constructed in 1884 as a local grocery store. It is located on a corner to maximize street exposure. The large street-side windows were designed to show goods that were for sale and to illuminate the interior of the store.

The structure is considered a story and a half with living quarters over, or to the back of, the shop. It is representative of a vast array of neighborhood stores that were scattered throughout Key West.

To understand the importance of these stores you must transport yourself back in time to the turn of the twentieth century when a majority of the streets were dusty unpaved paths. Automobiles were scarce and the common mode of transportation was on foot, by bicycle or, if you were lucky, by horse. Traveling every day to a centralized location for fresh groceries was not practical.

Many of the stores were built to service the needs of specific neighborhoods. It was common to find a laundry, drugstore, millinery store, dry goods store, coffee shop, ice cream parlor, billiard hall and a bakery in every neighborhood.

The stores were social gathering places where news and daily gossip was exchanged. They played an integral part in the everyday lives of our ancestors.