Fort East Martello Museum: A Stroll Down Key West’s History

 

                                           Entrance to the Fort East Martello Museum 

Key West, a city filled with everything you can imagine; beautiful beaches, nightlife, and historic sites. Along Roosevelt Blvd, the street that greets you once you enter Key West’s historic district, lies a burgundy brick, granular building standing proudly. Inside, a display of Key West’s most prominent historic artifacts. If you ever find yourself teeming with the desire to visit the country’s Southernmost point, be sure to check out the most popular museum in town; the Fort East Martello Museum.

With its faded, ancient appearance, it might be tempting to drive right past the museum. But, we promise if you give it a chance, you won’t be disappointed. The building was originally a Fort created to protect Key West from any possible invaders. Although no hostility was ever experienced and the fort was eventually turned into a museum, the Citadel tower used to guard the body of water surrounding Key West still stands tall and proud.

The museum offers a fair general admission fee of $13, and if you’re a student, you automatically qualify to receive a promising discount. Upon paying admission, you’re greeted with a gift shop filled with goodies. Your tour guide consists of two pink sheets of paper, filled with a thorough description of each section at the museum. You’re your own tour guide, which gives you the advantage of taking as much time as you need to fully understand what each section represents, and ultimately enjoy your museum experience.

The tour begins with a display of items collected from battlement grounds from the Civil War, showing off old dollar bills, rusted bullets found on the ocean floor, and so much more.

Following the war artifacts are several representations is one of how Key West’s inhabitants lived back in the mid 1800’s. One being Nancy Jameson’s dollhouse, created to depict the average Key West home.

                                               Artifacts from the Civil War (Section 1)

Perhaps the most popular section of the Fort East Martello Museum is that of Robert the Doll’s, the doll that inspired Chucky movies. Robert, a sailor doll made out of wood wool is said to have performed some mischievous acts in the past. His original owner, Robert Eugene Otto would often use the line, “I didn’t do it, Robert did it.”

The Otto’s home second owner, Myrtle Reuter claimed Robert was haunted and would move around on his own at night.

Robert now sits on display at the museum. When you go, be sure to ask him for permission before taking a picture. And of course, say “Thank you!”

                                     Robert the Doll

Analyze some personal items left behind by Cuban refugees landing in Key West, and those who may not have made it to shore. One of the artifacts collected was a Cuban refugee raft was discovered 10 miles south of Key West in 1969.

Refugee Raft Newspaper Article (Raft on Display at Fort East Martello Museum)

 

Admire metal sculptures made by Stanley Papio and learn more about the town’s cigar industries. Although Robert is considered the main attraction, you will walk away from this faded, brick building with more knowledge about Key West than you’ve ever had! To learn more information about Fort east Martello Museum, please visit: https://www.kwahs.org/museums/fort-east-martello/history 

                                                                        Papio’s Artwork

 

 

 

Post Author: Karla Florez

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