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May
02
Florida Vernacular Style: The Conch House

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What we normally refer to as "Key West" style houses is actually known as "The Conch Style" taking its name from a vast history involving the early settlers and a demand for building materials. The Vernacular architectural style is broad, encompassing designs elements to the need of the local area and the construction materials that are available locally. Vernacular architecture reflects the local traditions and uses the unique skills of builders in the area with special expertise. The style evolves over time and changes within environmental, cultural and historical context. In Florida, we have The Conch Vernacular Style, its gots its name by early settlers who would make mortar from water, sand and lime obtaining the lime through burning Conch shells. In the early 19th century they had no stones or bricks so they resorted to using the conch shell as a building material. The word "Conch" is derived from a Greek word meaning shell. The Conch shell has come to represent the Florida keys as it was essential to early settlers and has withstood a long history of importance to the culture of those living in the Keys. Unfortunately today, the shell is far from abundant and regulations have been put in place in order to ensure the survival of the Conch.

Florida is notorious for its long heat spells and violent storms- important factors to take into consideration when building in Florida. To design a home with limited building materials that needed to withstand high winds from hurricanes as well as stay cool was a tricky challenge, but gave birth to an architectural style well known today as being, "Key West." The design is a blend of Victorian romanticism and their response to the tropical environment. To keep the house cool, it was built of wood and set on post or piers to allow air circulation under the floor. Many of the structural concepts for the Conch house were based on ships as the early builders of these homes were seafaring carpenters. Other key features of the Conch House include louvered shutters to keep breeze flowing in and the direct sunlight out, gabled roofs, gingerbread trim, delicately carved balcony railings, wrap around porches, bright and light colors such as yellow, seafoam green, and soft pink. Today this style of home is widely used throughout the state of Florida but with many variations and use of more modern practices.

Recently, team Coffey and Company sold two homes in the Bradenton area, Holmes Beach featuring "The Conch Style." Both of these homes uniquely beautiful reflecting the perfect Florida dream house!

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