Sanctuary at Key Largo history

Portions of a letter to the Cheli's from Susanne, Sue Koontz from Markleton, PA. Her Father took a job as the first ground's keeper for what we all know as the Sanctuary at Key Largo. She sent them this letter that gives some history of the property and she was able to put names to the faces in the photos of the five (5) men who used the property back in those days.

The names are very significant. It seems John Pennekamp was here with a friend who's bank owned the property after taking it over from the Flagler family. History of the Care Taker family that lived at the Sanctuary in the 1960s: My family moved to The US in March of 1964. We flew via Lufthansa (no Mayflower) to Kennedy, and then onto Miami Int'l. From there my aunt (my mother's sister), my uncle and two cousins picked us up and we all drove back to their house in Islamorada. At the time, my aunt Lori (who worked as the personal assistant to Mr. Twitchell, owner of Cheeca Lodge) and uncle John Wayne Bean (who was a fish boat captain) owned several rental houses on the same block as where they lived, my family lived in one of those houses for about one or two months. My aunt was the only one in the family who spoke both English and German. She helped my parents get us into school at Coral Shores Elementary. The administration was hesitant to allow us into the school because we could not speak English, it took a lot of persuasion on her part to convince them that they were obligated to admit school aged children in. Obviously, there was no "English as a second language" program, so we were mainstreamed into regular classrooms were we quickly learned English. My father worked in the boat yard scrapping barnacles and other odd jobs as he learned English. Then, about April or May of 1964, we moved to the house in Key Largo (now the Sanctuary) and my parents took on the job as caretakers for the fishing camp. We lived there until June 1966. While living there, my father also worked at the Key Largo shopper for Jim and Bob Larwson.

Below is a picture my sister had, that we scanned for you (bottom, left). I am not certain if these are the same men in the picture you have pictured on the porch steps (bottom, right). I do think both pictures may have been taken on the same day. From left to right on the attached bottom left picture are: John Pennekamp, Ed Ball (Controlled the billion dollar estate of Alfred I. DuPont), Ben McGhee's brother?, Ben McGhee (Ed Ball's right hand man at Florida National Bank), and McGregor Smith (President Florida Power and Light).

My sister's and I pulled up some interesting facts on several of these men on the internet. I have the links in a file at work and will forward them to you this week. In the mean time, the link below is a good starting point.

Something interesting we learned is that Ed Ball was alleged to have been the power behind the 'Porkchop Gang" which was comprised of a group of rural politicians and segregationists who controlled the legislature for decades.


Five men

Listed by Kleine below: John D Pennekamp, Eduard Ball, Erwin Muscat, Ben McGahey, and McGregor Smith

Five Men again

From Koontz above: McGregor Smith (President Florida Power and Light), Ed Ball (Controlled the billion dollar estate of Alfred I. DuPont), John Pennekamp, Ben McGhee's brother?, and Ben McGhee (Ed Ball's right hand man at Florida National Bank)

Contribution via email from: Anton Kleine , Date: Saturday, May 24, 2008, 5:55 PM

Surfing the net I found the article Sue Koontz send you about the Fishing Camp, now Sanctuary, on mile marker 100. I would like to make some small corrections and explainations.

First, the photos were taken before Hurricane Betsy in the spring of 1965. The photo with the five gentlemen and the painted fish, which might be still hanging at the former cookhouse, are, from left to right:

The first is John D Pennekamp. The Underwater State Park is named after him. At the time the photo was taken, he was the editor of the Miami Herald. The next person is Eduard Ball, the Trustee of the Alfred I DuPont fortune.

The gentleman in the center is Erwin Muscat. At that time he was the chairman of the ill-fated InterRama project in North Dade County. His annual salary was $1.00 (One Dollar). He was financially independent, since he had made millions with the invention of fiberglass. The second from right is Ben McGahey, Ed Ball's right hand man in Florida. At that time Ben was the president of Florida National Bank on the corner of Flagler Street and Miami Avenue. Old Miamians remember Chrysler McGahey car dealership in down town which belonged to his family.

The person farthest to the right is McGregor Smith. At that time he was the president of FPL and under his leadership the Turkey Point Power Plant was build. His name is also synonymous with McGregor Smith Boy Scout Camps.

Should you further be interested in those people, you can found them on the net. I don't know if other photos of other visitors exist, but this place was frequently visited by well known people from the industry, politics and the news media.

I hope I could be of some help.
Tony Kleine

Aerial photos of Sanctuary area, Key Largo 1964

Aerial photos of Sanctuary area, Key Largo 1964

Aerial photos of Sanctuary area, Key Largo 1964

Aerial photos of Sanctuary area, Key Largo 1964

Aerial photos of Sanctuary area, Key Largo 1964

Aerial photos of Sanctuary area, Key Largo 1964

Aerial photos of Sanctuary area, Key Largo 1964

Aerial photos of Sanctuary area, Key Largo 1964

Four photos above contribution via email:
From: Anton Kleine
Subject: old photos
Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2009, 6:13 PM
Hi Jeff

I found some old aerial shots from the summer of 1964. See how things have changed in 45 years.

Tony Kleine

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