The city of Key West finally is restoring the crumbling and graffiti-covered cable huts at Mallory Square, a project City Manager Greg Veliz called “long overdue.”

Officials in November 2020 approved a $317,000 contract with DL Porter Constructors to stabilize and restore the hexagonal structures that date back to the 1920s and ’30s. They were used to store giant spools of telegraph cable that was laid underwater — then maintained by the schooner Western Union — to enable communication between Key West, Cuba and the Caribbean.

A similar cable hut near the Southernmost Point monument — from which a 125-mile telegraph line to Cuba originated — is identified and explained by a historic plaque at the site. The same could not be said for the cable huts at Mallory Square, which hosts the island’s nightly Sunset Celebration, but not much else. 

Prior to the January 2021 restoration efforts, the historic cable huts at Mallory Square, seen in July 2019, were rapidly deteriorating. KEYS WEEKLY FILE PHOTO

The waterfront square, however, is again on the list for revitalization. 

The city’s new consultants, KCI Technologies, selected to revitalize Duval Street, soon will begin holding public meetings to build consensus on how the street should look, KCI representative Bruce Reed told the city commission on Feb. 2. 

As Duval Street discussions begin, talk also has turned to Mallory Square, and to finding additional uses for the prime, publicly owned property near the foot of Duval Street.

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