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All in the family

Posted Feb 1, 2013 Posted by One Comment

Last year, the Monroe County Library’s Florida History Department was the beneficiary of an amazing donation of materials from the Heritage House — home to generations of the Porter family and their descendants. It’s not surprising that so much incredible material was preserved — Jessie Porter Newton was the godmother of the preservation movement in Key West. When many people saw little value in old wooden homes and crumbling brick structures, she saw the history and beauty that has made Key West one of the nation’s premiere historic towns today. She helped found the organizations and create the institutions that have led to the restoration and celebration of the island’s 19th century heritage.

While recently going through one of the boxes of documents and other materials the Porter family donated, we came across this gem, from a report Jessie Porter Newton wrote in 1960, outlining a proposed tour of historic homes. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do:

“We could go on and on in telling of the past, but let’s think a bit of the future. Key West is really the grandmother of Miami. He is the young grandson — big, strapping, successful, enterprising, and still growing. She admires him tremendously, but she should realize she cannot live the life he leads. For better or for worse, she has been married to a sea-going man, ‘Navy,’ who in the past has left her often, deserted her at times, but always he has come back and for awhile supported her handsomely, bringing her gifts and guests from the far corners of the world. She loves her Navy husband and hopes this time he will stay with her. Meanwhile, she should cultivate her grandson’s children, make them feel welcome, and invite them to come home more often.”

The lovely photo of Jessie Porter as a young woman, by the way, was also part of the collection donated by her family. For more of those remarkable images, check out the whole collection on our online photo archive.


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One Comment »

  • Don Prince said:

    I met this remarkable woman in November of 1973 shortly after I moved to Ft. Lauderdale from Michigan and was visiting an old high school friend in Key West. He lived in an apartment in the top floor of her large home. She appointed me the bartender and I made bloody marys for us. She was one of the most interesting people I have ever met and I have never forgotten her.