Ghosts of East Martello

Designed after the nearly impregnable coastal Martello watchtowers in Italy, the Fort East Martello and its twin Fort East Martello were never completed and never saw hostile action. Its outer bulwark and inner citadel, with eight-foot thick granite walls built during the Civil War era, are a monument to military engineering and at the time of its construction could have withstood any amount of bombardment. But the development of explosive shells made these defenses passé.

Abandoned in 1873, sadly the structure fell in a deep state of disrepair. For decades the government used the Martello towers as target practice, radio stations, storage units, cattle pens and barracks for soldiers. In 1950, the Key West Art & Historical Society opened a museum in the overgrown ruin.
The museum is now home to artifacts, antiques, and art collections. Exhibits share the stories of the people who struggled to build our island city, before they slowly disappear from our collective memory.

Learn about the Calusa Indians, the earliest settlers of the Florida Keys, and the possibility that our island was used as a  burial ground. When the Spanish discovered the island, there were so many bones discovered that they named the island Cayo Hueso (Bone Island).
See artifacts from the Civil War including personal items from Union soldiers that occupied our island.

Gaze upon a horse drawn hearse and touch gravestones that once adorned our cemetery. Discover our traditions and understand why so many family members occupy the same grave site.   

View great works of folk art from Florida Keys legends Stanley Papio and Mario Sanchez.  
Hear the stories of Cuban chugs and the 90 mile voyage over the dangerous waters Cuban immigrants braved to find freedom on the shores of the Florida Keys.

It’s not only the exhibits that speak of the ghosts of our past. A number of people over the years have reported unexplained sightings in the Fort. 
Come see for yourself!

Fort East Martello Museum
3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd.,
Key West, Florida