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Lower Matecumbe Key


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​Anne Eaton was a delegate at the Democratic Convention in 1960 and 1964

​Anne Eaton marches to urge governments to stop nuclear testing

Anne Eaton (1922 - 1992)


The Lower Matecumbe Home: While the Starck home was the first home built on Lower Matecumbe, it is not the oldest home on the island.  The oldest home on the island was not built on Lower Matecumbe – it was moved to the island by Anne Eaton, in 1969.  The house was already 60 years old at the time and in need of a major face lift. But what a grand story that “move” was! 

Anne was the wife of the famous Ohio Industrialist, Cyrus Eaton.  Back in the '60's, Anne started taking her mother, Evelyn Kinder, on trips South. She began keeping an eye out for a possible winter place. Her first trip to the Keys in 1962, Anne stayed at Cheeca Lodge and fell in love with the area. She returned every year.

She set out to look for a house -- an old place where "you could sit around wearing a wet bathing suit and not hurt anything." Realtors kept showing her air-conditioned stucco with wall to wall carpeting.  Not at all what Anne had in mind.


​On one expedition, when the Realtor had parked the car and left Anne in it while she got some coffee, Anne looked up and found herself right next to a derelict, abandoned old frame house. As her daughter, Lissie reports, “As she was looking at it, a shutter fell off one of the upstairs windows: ‘the house winked at me,’ she said. And it was all over. In that moment, she fell for the Old Albury House--later The Last Resort.”

The owner offered to give it to Anne if she would move it!  She certainly got no support from Cyrus as he was convinced that Anne was crazy to undertake such a foolhardy effort. But she was determined. 

Being a lawyer's daughter, Anne knew she ought to have a proper transaction and a deed of sale. She bought the house for a dollar (which Mr. Albury later gave back so she could frame it, along with the deed).

Then came finding the right location to give the house a home!  And she found just the right spot – Columbus Drive on Lower Matecumbe…. a 17 mile trek down U.S. One. So she had the house sawed in two to move each half down Old US 1 on a flatbed truck at 2 in the morning, clearing the sides of the old bridges by about 6".  And once at its new location, her treasured house was put back together. And Anne saw to it that it was turned back around as the hurricane of 1935 had picked it up and turned it around so the ocean porch had been wrongly facing the street before the move.

Anne Eaton considered herself a very clever investor to have paid a total of $25,001 for her two lots, the house, and the moving expenses. The timing in 1969 was perfect, before the boom in real estate.
 
Dubbed the Last Resort, Anne was to say, again and again, that the best thing she ever did was buying that wonderful old house! Not only could she escape to it, but she could invite the world to visit her, and the world always left refreshed and enthusiastic.

She eventually retired to her house fulltime, and became a vocal advocate for slow growth, way before the rest of the Florida Keys understood the importance of conservation.  Anne entertained continuously, inviting a steady parade of friends and neighbors daily for drinks, a game of croquet, and heated debates about local politics.  She often sat at her piano entertaining guests, inviting them to sing along. She composed her own parodies about politics in the Keys.  

Much campaigning and lobbying of local officials took place on the wide porch of the Last Resort, overlooking the placid waters of the Atlantic.  She used all of her charm and influence in making a difference in the fight against over-development, often referring to the block of voters promoting unbridled development as the "The Cement Block." She worked tirelessly in preserving the beauty and history of the Keys.  And the residents of Lower Matecumbe were lucky to benefit from her efforts.  Anne Eaton spent months researching ownership records, fundraising and organizing the clean-up of the beach at the south end of Lower Matecumbe, turning it into a spectacular County park.

 When Anne had a cause, her unrelenting energy was certainly undiminished by the fact she was confined to a wheel chair most of her adult life. Shortly after her death at her home on Lower Matecumbe in the mid 1990’s, the Monroe County Commission named the beach on Lower Matecumbe, Anne’s Beach, in her honor.  The Last Resort sits behind a white picket fence on Columbus Drive.     


Her Husband: Cyrus Stephen Eaton, (born Dec. 27, 1883, Pugwash, Nova Scotia, died May 9, 1979, near Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.),  a U.S.- Canadian billionaire industrialist and philanthropist, founder of the Republic Steel Corporation.

While a student, Eaton met up with John D. Rockefeller who became a significant mentor to Eaton. As a result, instead of getting into ministry, Cyrus became a businessman, building several electric power plants in western Canada within a few years, and then getting involved in other utilities, banking, and steel in the United States.  Eaton lost much of his fortune during the Great Depression but made a second one in the securities industry, banking, and railroads.

Eaton became prominent in the 1950s and ’60s as an advocate of nuclear disarmament and improved U.S.-Soviet relations. In 1957 he started the Pugwash Conferences, at his lodge in Nova Scotia, inviting leading scientists and scholars from many countries to meet to exchange ideas and promote international understanding. 


Cyrus married Anne Kinder in 1957.  Earlier in the year she had been his hostess at the 1957 Peace Conference in Pugwash, and her grace, wit, and empathy charmed guests who were there to discuss nuclear disarmament.  She and Cyrus traveled the world, promoted peace, women's rights, and racial equality.  In 1979 they were jointly awarded the Canadian World Federalist Peace Award.  Cyrus via his Pugwash Conference also won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Anne and Cyrus Eaton about 1957