74. North Beach Building

Historic Marker number 74 is located at 716 Eisenhower between Newton and Angela Street.

The two historic buildings before you have experienced a number of lives in a couple of locations. As part of the Historic District, the buildings are notable architecturally for their roof slope and cupolas. It is believed they were built as Army officers' barracks in Peary Court, just north of this location. Built in 1835, Peary Court was the home of the Army Garrison. The Army was an important military influence in the growth of Key West from its early days beginning in 1822 through World War II.

North Beach Building is the name given to these structures as part of their recent renovation as affordable housing apartments. They were constructed around 1900 in the center of Peary Court. They served as an officer's quarters. Notice the cupolas located at either end of the sloped roof line. Cupolas featuring wooden louvers were a common way to release heat from a structure. The tall interior ceilings, large window openings and porches were designed to provide a relatively comfortable living space in this sub-tropical climate.

North Beach Road was the original shore line road that cut through the front (eastern view) of the property. This road roughly corresponds to today's Eisenhower Drive. While Peary Court and the remains of North Beach Road are land locked today, they were open water properties until 1910.

The Army's primary objective in Key West was to man its four defensive forts and respond to any Caribbean and South American threats. The garrison played a crucial role in the Spanish American War and most notably the Civil War. At the outset of the Civil War, troops from Peary Court secured the military forts in Key West for the Union. With the Federal Army in place, the island remained in Union hands throughout the war and played a vital role in the Union blockade of the Confederacy.

Following World War II, a decreased Army presence on the island meant buildings in Peary Court were sold to the general public. The recycling of military structures for civilian use is found throughout Key West's history.

The advent of Flagler's construction of the Over Sea Highway added 340 acres of fill on the north side of Peary Court's shoreline for his train terminal. Over the years, locals expanded much of the shoreline in front of the house eventually enlarging the front yard (east) and shifting North Beach Road into what was once the bay.

During Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency, the road was renamed in his honor and expansion along the road's shoreline eventually left it landlocked with historic homes and modern structures lining the street.

While North Beach, the pristine water view, and water access are no longer evident, the Army Garrisons' name lives on in the waters that once lapped Peary Court's shores. Garrison Bight has become home to the island's charter boat industry and city marina.