Top Ten: Key House

A view of the legendary Key House, built in 1894 out of heart pine and black cypress by August Mohr, Photo available for purchase

A view of the legendary Key House, built in 1894 out of heart pine and black cypress by August Mohr, superintendent of the Cypress Lumber company

David Adlerstein
Published: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 02:27 PM.

At a routine foreclosure sale at the county courthouse in May, one of Apalachicola’s most legendary historic homes added to its legend.

The Key House, once owned in the 1930s by famed novelist Alexander Key and his wife Margaret, and now worth in the neighborhood of $1 million, was sold for a mere $1,000 to Port St. Joe real estate investor David T. Ethridge, after representatives of the bank holding the mortgage failed to show up.

But no sooner was the May 16 foreclosure sale complete, attorneys for the bank moved to vacate the sale on the grounds Ethridge’s bid was “clearly an ‘unconscionably inadequate’ price caused solely by the mistake” of the bank’s agent, JMT Management.

Ethridge had paid the $1,000 to the clerk of courts office, but the bank’s motion put a freeze on the sale until it could be heard by Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey. When she was reassigned to Tallahassee, the case was to be heard by Circuit Judge George S. Reynolds III.

Reynolds continued the case until Sept. 24, when Ethridge and the bank would have their day in court to decide the future of the three-story Victorian gem adjacent to Lafayette Park.

The drama was short-lived, though, when after a brief hearing, attorneys for Capital Bank (successor to TIB Bank), and Ethridge himself, agreed on a settlement of $35,000 to vacate the sale.

“This is a fascinating case,” said Reynolds, in accepting the settlement. “I’m glad you all reached agreement. A settlement is always better.”

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