Located at 323 Whitehead Street, between Eaton and Caroline Streets the Cosgrove House is a must see stop on the historic walking tour. But, not so much for the house, but the beautiful banyan tree located out front. The Cosgrove House is part of the Banyan Resort, so named for the banyan trees on the property.
Captain Phillip Cosgrove purchase the home in 1871 for $1,600. The house is located in a prime location with its proximity to the deep-water port and the, then center of the city. The house was originally owned by John Whitehead, a founding father of Key West.
This beautiful home and its history literally overshadowed by Myrtle Cosgrove landscaping decision. In the 1800’s Key West was not green and lush. Since fresh water was conserved and collected in rain cisterns, landscaping was not a priority. If you were to plant anything, it would bear fruit or some other food. Mrs. Cosgrove decided she wanted shade and decided to plant a banyan tree.
Banyans are fig trees that have aerial prop roots that grow into thick woody trunks that then become indistinguishable from the main trunk. Old trees spread out laterally using the prop roots to cover a large area. Some banyan trees have been known to cover a quarter of an acre. Mrs. Cosgrove was able to get shade, but probably should have done so in a bigger yard.
Over the years, seven historic homes have been combined to create the Banyan Resort. The front yard has one of the two banyan trees she planted in the early 1900’s the other is in the back yard. You can see these trees from your room in the Cosgrove home. The house has been updated to have five one-bedroom suites; each with a full kitchen.
The house is said to be haunted by the ghost of Captain Cosgrove. Visitors have seen and heard him as he roamed through the property. In addition to him, there is a little girl ghost who is known to take the chocolates left on guest pillows.
If you have never seen a banyan, be sure to stop by and check out this beautiful tree!
(credits: KeyWestParanormal.com, TheBanyanResort.com, KeyWestHistoricMarkerTour.org)