Key West is the home of many historic tales, buried treasure, pirate shipwrecks and our iconic inn among them. In the early 1900s, the United States Navy established a submarine base at what is now Truman Annex. The strategic location and year-round tropical weather made it a perfect location for training. Soon after, the United States Weather Bureau building was founded in 1911. After 1951, the Weatherstation Inn building served as residential housing for the U.S. Navy, and was subsequently abandoned following the closure of Base Annex in 1974. The two-story structure, renaissance in style, characterizes both the U.S. military architecture of the period and the unique site of a tropical American Military base. The Weatherstation proudly opened its doors to guests in the spring of 1997 maintaining its heritage.
Accurate weather forecasts are vital to the growth and success of a community, and this building was an integral link in the legacy of the United States Weather Bureau. Without the use of advanced forecasting tools we enjoy today, we were dependent on a basic history of weather in their area and a couple of rudimentary tools.
Before the formation of the Weather Bureau, a loose network of forecasting locations was primarily run by local citizens throughout the country. The speed of warnings and information was limited by the speed of a pony express or a sailing ship. That all changed with the invention and widespread use of telegraphs during the 1860-70s. Forecast range and accuracy greatly improved with the connection of landline telegraph services and the first underwater telegraph cable laid between Key West and Cuba in 1867.
Key West’s first weather service was located at the Army Barracks in Peary Court. Over the years it had numerous locations including the Jefferson Hotel that was lost in the Great Fire of 1886. The building before you was built in 1912 as the United States Weather Bureau on the Fort Zachary Taylor Army Base. In 1947 the base was transferred to the U.S. Navy and was renamed the Truman Annex Navy Base. From 1912 to 1957 it served as a vital link in the National Weather Bureau’s network of forecast locations and was often on the front line predicting the path and power of tropical hurricanes. After closing in 1974, the building was reopened as the Weatherstation Inn in 1977. The current National Weather Bureau building is located at 1315 White Street.