Audubon House and Tropical Gardens

Audubon House and Tropical Gardens was built in the mid-nineteenth century in the Classic American Revival architecture. It is situated at 205 Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida Capt. John H. Geiger, the first licensed pilot of the Key West harbor port, built this elegant building in the 1840s. Geiger was living with his wife and nine children in that house at that time. He planted several beautiful tropical vegetation on his property.

When the famous artist and ornithologist, John James Audubon visited the Dry Tortugas and the Florida Keys in 1832, he found the house of Capt. Geiger as a perfect setting for his art works. When Audubon painted the property of Geiger, he identified 19 birds native to Florida and painted them to include them in his ‘Birds o America’ painting portfolio. The gorgeous plants attracted Audubon, who even cut parts of the plants in the property and used these cuttings as backgrounds for his subsequent works.

The local authorities slated the house for demolition in 1958. However, a nonprofit educational institution, Mitchell Wolfson Family Foundation bought and restored the three level house, the first restoration project in entire Key West. The foundation run by Colonel Mitchell Wolfson along with his wife, Frances, established the house as the Audubon House Museum and Tropical Gardens in 1960. The gardens developed by Capt. Geiger today have brick paths and offer a lush one acre view of bromeliads, orchids, and other typical tropical foliage, an 1840-style nursery, and a herb garden. The organizers of the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens also bought many antique furnishings from auctions and estate sales in Europe and have exhibited them in the house.

Since Audubon was the first artist to paint the house and the birds in the property, today the house proudly exhibits 28 first edition paintings of Audubon. The Audubon House Gallery is in a separate location away from the main house and contains the unique original art collection of Audubon art. The highlight of the different paintings of Audubon is the White crowned Pigeon, with the Geiger tree as the backdrop of the painting. The present management of the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens permit corporate parties and buffet dinner or plated dinner celebrations in the gardens, along with casual receptions. The gardens have moon lighting covering the entire garden of more than an acre.