There are attributes about a Queenslander that are charm-making.  Features like wide, sweeping verandahs, fan lights, high ceilings, timber floors and VJs.  All around the world there are other styles of home that have different features and ooze their own charm, like Californian bungalows, or Cape Cod homes. 

My obsession with houses is not just limited to Queenslanders and today, I wanted to share with you a home that isn’t a Queenslander (gasp!). 

This home has some of the same charm-making features that a Queenslander has.  In fact, I think they are cousins.  I’m talking about the Conch house.  

What is a conch house?

From wikipedia:

A conch house is a style of architecture that developed in Key West, Florida in the 19th century and used into the 20th century. The style was also used in the other keys and in the Miami area. The introduction of the conch house style is attributed to migrants from the Bahamas.

According to wiki, the features of a conch house are:

  • built of wood
  • set on posts or piers which allows air to circulate under the floor
  • rectangular, of one or two floors
  • usually have a porch across the full width of the front of the house (both floors if the house has two floors)
  • horizontal weatherboarding
  • low gabled or hip roofs
  • double-hung sash windows
  • roofs are metal or shingled

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

History of Conch Houses

Bahamian immigrants in Key West had experience building boats and the earliest conch houses were built like boats, using timber framing. The term ‘conch house’ has been applied to houses built in a variety of styles in Key West, but the most common usage is for house built in a Bahamian style.

Conch houses were built for the tropical climate of Florida and incorporated design techniques to maximise airflow throughout the home while also providing protection from the heat and weather, just like the design techniques of a Queenslander.

The porches of a conch house were usually shuttered to keep breezes in and heat and direct sunlight out. Queenslanders today use lattice to do the same thing. The porches in a conch house were used in a similar way to a Queenslander, allowing the home owner to sit in a covered area outside when the night temperatures began to cool.

They are usually painted in bright colours.

Same, Same but Different

Here’s a beautiful Key West home that is currently for sale, listed for sale at US$1.3m. It was built in 1923 and has undergone a renovation to increase the floor space. It reminds me a little of our little Queenslander cottages.

The unpainted timber is “Dade County Pine”, which was known to grow only in South Florida. Spectacular!

This photo brings a real sense of being on a boat.

I just love this style of home and have a few more houses to share in future posts.

For more details on this home, go here.