Historic Marker 22 is located at 1001 James St at the corner of James and Grinnell.
Just 7 years after Edison started generating power in New York, J.J. Philbrick constructed a plant on Emma Street to bring electricity to Key West. In 1887, Philbrick created the Key West Gas and Electric Light Company knowing that the energy needs on the island were rapidly growing. Two years later, Philbrick ceased producing gas all together, and his company officially became the Key West Electric Company.
Philbrick wasn’t the only magnate in Key West to start an electric company. In 1897 Curry and Sons started their own power plant. The rivalry between the companies lasted for 7 years until Philbrick passed away and his nephews John P. and A. F. Laflin took over in 1904. The nephews negotiated the take over of the Curry plant thus ending the rivalry.
For the short time that the newly consolidated Key West Electric Company
existed, the board consisted of Philbrick’s nephews along with power players from the Curry family, Jeremiah Fogarty and E.H. Gato.
Two years after the consolidation, the Stone and Webster Corporation bought them out. Stone and Webster brought all of the pieces together and helped to thrust Key West into the electric age. In 1943, the City acquired Key West Electric and created the Utility Board to oversee City Electric System, which continues today as Keys Energy Services.