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Our History

The Banyan Resort originally consisted of six homes that were constructed as private residences during the mid-1800’s. The individual owners of these properties decided to combine their interests in the early 1980’s and convert them into “The Banyan Guest House”.

The guest house quickly became a popular place to stay. However, back in those days, Key West had two distinct tourist seasons: “In” and “Off” season as referred to by the local residents. The business at The Banyan Guest House thrived during the “In” season (December – April) months but was finding it very difficult to make ends meet during extremely slow “Off” season (May – November) months.

A new concept of “Timesharing” was emerging in the U.S. at that time and gaining popularity. That concept proved irresistible to the owners and “The Banyan Resort” was born. Inventory quickly sold out and additional homes were erected in the late 1980’s.

The Houses

The Saunders House

The Saunders House is named after William Saunders, whose family was one of Key West’s original pioneers. In 1873, he owned the entire plot of undeveloped land where the Saunders, Abernathy and Locke Houses currently stand. The Saunders house was the first built on this plot in the 1890’s and is a classic two-story Victorian style with wrap around porches. This house’s 2nd floor has been converted into the only two bedroom, two bathroom suite with a balcony overlooking Eaton Street and a separate studio suite with a private verandah overlooking the adult pool. The 1st floor has been converted into two, one bedroom suites with a shared balcony facing Eaton Street and a studio suite amidst a private garden patio with direct access to the adult pool.

The Cigar Factory

The cigar industry of Key West dates back to 1831 when the first cigar factory was established by an Englishman, Mr. William H. Wall, who boasted “the very best Tobacco from Havana.” With the Cuban Independence War of 1868, the population of Key West and the cigar manufacturing industry boomed. In 1890, the cigar industry of Key West reached its zenith when 64 factories were in operation and over one hundred million cigars were made, earning the island the title “Cigar Capital of the World”. Jacob & Ramon Cortalar rolled the finest cigars at this factory that has been converted into two, one-bedroom suites with direct access to the adult pool on the Banyan grounds. Both units have skylights, formerly scuttles, which were rooftop openings popular in cigar factories utilized to provide increased air circulation. The “Fantasy Suite”, as it has come to be known, has antique blue glass windows in the gables through which the sun’s rays illuminate the room giving it a mystic aura. This unique unit, which features the only Jacuzzi bath on the property and a Dade County pine sitting room, also contains a full kitchen and breakfast nook. The other unit in this house features a spacious living room and large, full kitchen complete with all of the “at home” luxuries including a dishwasher, ice-maker and garbage disposal.

The Locke House

The Locke House is named after James William Locke who served as a member of the Florida State Senate between 1870 and 1872. Locke was then nominated to the Federal Judicial Service by Ulysses Grant on January 15, 1872 where he remained in place until his retirement. At that time Key West was the largest city, per capita, in the state Florida and was the original location of its Federal offices. The magnificent Locke House sits on the corner of the property and is comprised of four two-bedroom suites and a fabulous one-bedroom Penthouse. The spacious rooms have French Doors that open onto large verandahs allowing the breeze and light to flow throughout. Windows line the living and dining area of the Penthouse, there is a wonderful bay window in the bedroom, and the private balcony allows you to relax amid the treetops.

The Abernathy House

The Abernathy House is named after Wyatt Thomas Abernathy who was a prominent merchant that originated from Tennessee. He relocated with his family to Key West in the late-1890’s to take advantage of the prospering economy. Abernathy purchased the house from the Locke family who built that home, as is evident by the signature gingerbread trim on the front porch and balcony. The Locke family had a strong political presence in Key West in the late 1800’s and a prominent family would often have a unique gingerbread pattern that would be mounted on each of their properties. Though the Abernathy House was built a few years after the Locke House, and not in the typical Victorian style, the family added the trim in the Locke family tradition. The upstairs floor is comprised of a spacious one-bedroom suite which has a balcony overlooking Eaton Street. The downstairs has been reconfigured into a one bedroom suite and a separate studio suite, each with a private courtyard lined with bountiful tropical foliage.

The Cosgrove House

This stately home sits on part of the land which John Whitehead sold in 1829 to P. C. Greene, one of the four original proprietors of Key West. The house was built in 1850 by a man named Lord and changed hands a few times before it was purchased by Captain Phillip L. Cosgrove for the price of $1,600.00 in 1871. The property was passed to Cosgrove’s son, then to his granddaughter and remained in the Cosgrove family until 1947. In fact, the front yard contains one of the two expansive Banyan Trees on this property which was planted in the early 1900’s by Captain Cosgrove’s wife, Myrtle. The Cosgrove House has since been reconfigured to accommodate five, one-bedroom suites. The rooftop penthouse suite boasts an expansive, secluded verandah with a spectacular view of the very trees for which this resort is named. Each suite features a full kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto private porches or balconies. Enjoy the relaxing views of either our tranquil gardens or pass time observing the “Local Color” stroll peacefully along Whitehead Street.

The Delaney House

The Delaney House was named after William L. Delaney, who erected this majestic residence in 1898. Mr. Delaney was a collector for US Customs and served as first vice-president on the Key West Board of Trade, which was the first commercial body organized in Key West on November 30, 1885. This house is constructed of Dade County pine and was built by ship’s carpenters. The gingerbread trim and carved ornaments detail the basic simplicity of the Queen Anne design, often dubbed the Princess Anne style. Architecturally, the pavilion tower and the verandahs lined with decorative balustrade combine to present its handsome facade. The Delaney House was selected as one of 38 most significant Key West structures by the Milo Smith Survey of Historic Buildings. This house has been converted into eight unique suites comprised of two studios; two, one bedrooms and four, one bedrooms with a loft. Each suite has a full kitchen and semi private porch or balcony. The Resort’s Reception Desk is also located in this dwelling.

The Sawyer-Thorpe Homes

The Sawyer-Thorpe Homes were named after Benjamin Sawyer, a wrecker and a fisherman in the early 1840’s and Daniel Thorpe, also a wrecker. Benjamin Sawyer constructed his family’s residence of stone on the present site of the Delaney House. William Delaney demolished the Sawyer home upon purchasing it in 1898 and proceeded to build the home which stands here today. These two structures are nestled in the gardens behind the largest Banyan Tree on the property and were erected in the late-1980’s to meet the growing demands of the timeshare sales. Painstaking measures were taken to integrate the new construction with the existing historic homes including decorative balustrade. All of the suites in these houses are one-bedroom with a full kitchen and French doors that open onto private front and rear porches.

The Townhouse

The Townhouse is one of the more recent additions to the property and is comprised of two spacious loft suites. The magnificent arched windows originate from the old Flagler Hotel commissioned in 1910 by railroad tycoon Henry Flagler and his Florida East Coast Hotel Company. Each of these one-bedroom suites has cathedral ceilings and a large loft bedroom, accessible via a spiral staircase. Both units have a private patio and arched windows that allow for incredible sunlight permeation as well as astonishing garden views.