This building was built on the outskirts of the naval base named for President Truman. The Navy constructed the structure for a dual purpose.The main part of the building was used for general storage with the top floor retrofitted for coal storage. Steamships were the heart of the naval fleet. An abundant supply of coal was vital for the fleet and the high volume of commercial shipping that used the port. This part of the waterfront was covered with coal buildings and additional storage space was needed.
The Arch House and is the oldest remaining Carriage House in the Historic District. It is recognized as a novelty of architectural design and function. In the 1880s, it was uncommon for the average person to possess a horse much less a carriage. Horses, building materials, and the essentials of life had to be brought from the mainland by sail boat. The house and an adjoining cigar factory stand as testament to an era of wealth and prosperity from the Civil War until 1910.
In 1892, a hardware store was constructed here to service the surrounding cigar and fishing industry. By 1914 Jack and Rosa Williams opened Jack's Saloon. The saloon was well situated to wet the whistle of sailors, fishermen, and the public. By 1923, the building was transformed into the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant. Bottling machines carrying glistening bottles of the refreshing drink were visible through the front windows. With the advent of the Overseas-Highway, the bottling plant closed and Coca-Cola products were trucked in from the mainland.
Methodist preaching was first heard on the island in 1832 when two missionaries arrived by schooner. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was formed in 1845 making the Old Stone Church the oldest Methodist Church in Southeast Florida. The church structure is made of coral rock quarried from the site and was built to cover their semi-permanent wooden sanctuary. Upon the completion the old church was dismantled and carried out the front door. Over the years, four Methodist congregations united to form the foundation of the current church.
For over a century the Florida Keys reaped the rewards of shipwrecked vessels on its 200 miles of reefs and shoals. In the early 1800s there was a shipwreck a week. During the 1830s, nearly 60-90 percent of all exports from Florida came from wrecking. The use of â€œfalse lightsâ€ to lure ships onto a reef is a popular fable. In reality an unidentified light in the night represents land or a maritime danger to be avoided.