The Key West Mystique

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Key West Renovation: Stockade fence

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

02/18/2013

    Trading privacy for an open, approachable fence

    Key West and the Historic Architecture Review Committee (HARC) are hardliners on fences. Keep them short, white and picketed. No bricks, stucco or stockades in the Old Town historic areas.

    There was one loophole if we’d wanted to keep the tall, stockade privacy fence: We could repair it. That would mean we could have repaired each of the sections, occasionally replacing the existing six-foot pickets with similar ones. But, we could not simply tear it down and replace it all at one time.

    And, whether we repaired or replaced, we faced removal of trees, shrubs and one palm tree. Not only would we lose the privacy from the fence, but we’d lose the landscaping.

    There were advantages to the tall fence, first among them the privacy from street traffic and noise — including the Conch Train, which makes it way past the house every hour or so in tourist season.

    But the fence was also off-putting and, frankly, after living behind it for six months, we weren’t comfortable with the unfriendly feeling. Felt kinda like those “keep out; this means you” signs on a tree house.

    The fence was in awful shape. Sagging, broken, held in place by ropes and boards. It was impossible to open the gate for the off-street parking.

    So we opted to tear it down and replace it with a conventional, HARC-approved, 42-inch, white picket fence. complete with people gate and rolling car gate.

    Concrete footers and hand-cut, pressure-treated fence posts and pickets are designed to withstand termites, wind, salt and occasional off-the-road damage.

    And, let’s be honest, we loved the design of the new house. Seemed a shame to hide it behind a stockade fence.

    Next: Key West renovation: The front porch.

     

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    Linda Grist Cunningham

    Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

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