Step back into another time

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Historic Adderley house in Marathon.

At Crane Point Museum and Nature Center in Marathon, the historic Adderley house is made of crushed and fired seashells. George Adderley’s home was built in 1906. It is the oldest house in the Keys outside Key West, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. It is surrounded by 63 acres of palm and tropical hardwood hammock, saved from development by the Florida Keys Land and Sea Trust. Sundays, the museum and nature center opens at noon – and last Sunday, that was just as the temperature was heading into the upper 50s. The thatch palm hammock, with hundreds of palms, is a splendid hike. Adderley’s tabby house, a sturdy and charming example of Bahamian architecture, is open to walk through.

Dicliptera sexangularis.

 A little farther on is the Crane house, a 1950s pink house that looks into Florida Bay. Francis and Mary Crane bought the land in 1949 and decided not to disturb the native mangroves and hammocks around them, although they knew David Fairchild, and grew plants for him at this site. Growing around one of the palms at the Crane house is Dicliptera sexangularis, a delicate red wildflower with thin stems and leaves. The tubular flower attracts large orange sulphur butterflies and is a larval host plant for Cuban crescent butterflies. I’ve only seen this plant once before, and was delighted to find it here and even more delighted to remember its name – okay, at least the Dicliptera part. A visit to Crane Point is a walk back in time, native wildflowers and all.