As we walked down Truman Avenue on our way to Duvall Street — around which you’ll find the main sites of interest in Key West — we came across this pretty church. It’s the Basilica of St Mary Star of the Sea, one of the oldest parishes in Florida.
The first Catholic Church in Key West was constructed in 1851 and was dedicated as “Saint Mary Star of the Sea”. That church was destroyed by fire in 1901. Construction of the present church began in 1904 and was completed the following year.
The church is built directly onto the island’s coral limestone and is made of concrete blocks containing crushed limestone and sand. It’s exterior design is considered “American Victorian”. The church is framed by two bell towers rising 97 ft (about 30 m ) high.
As the doors were wide open, we entered and looked around. The interior is spacious and appealing. We visited in early December, so Christmas decorations were everywhere. There are many shuttered doors and windows allowing the cooling breezes to help naturally air condition the congregational space. The stained glass windows were quite attractive.
The church was added to National Registry of Historic places in 1971 (part of the Key West Historic District). Pope Benedict XVI declared it a minor basilica in 2012. Worth stopping by for a look when you’re in the neighborhood.
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