SHARON WELLS, author, publisher, photographer, painter and preservationist, chose Key West as her home almost thirty years ago. Growing up in Illinois (and Hawaii), she immediately fell in love with the “allure of the tropics” on the southernnmost island. Back then (1976), rents were cheap, the afternoons were for imbibing a cold one in a nearly vacant Sloppy Joe’s, lunch at the Deli cost two bucks and you could dine on fresh yellowtail, fried or grilled, as you overlooked dozens of shrimp boats tied up to the docks along the island’s western edge at the Gulf of Mexico.
Sharon Wells’ preservation efforts for 25 years helped bring a new awareness of historic preservation to locals and visitors alike. The National Register districts were expanded, a preservation award program established, the historic 1847 cemetery was revived, and architectural review of the city’s treasure trove of 3.000 landmark buildings came to the forefront.
Born in Arizona and educated in Illinois, Tokyo, Japan; and Honolulu, Hawaii, Wells graduated with degrees in history & political science, and a love for art. She moved to Key West in 1976 and began a career in historic preservation and photography.
In 2002 Sharon opened KW LIGHT GALLERY, a fine art photography gallery, featuring her photographs and paintings as well as giclees of historic photographs Key West. Visit www.kwlightgazllery.com to see more of Sharon's work.
A student of history, Sharon established Island City Heritage Press in 1995 and annually publishes 120,000 copies of Sharon Wells’ Walking & Biking Guide to Historic Key West. The Guide has received accolades over the years from thousands of visitors.
With her personalized tours of Key West, Island City Strolls, visitors accompany Sharon and her guides to off the beaten track locales, by foot or on bikes, or “Conch cruisers. ” Sharon Wells also penned Portraits: Wooden Houses of Key West, Forgotten Legacy: Blacks In Nineteenth Century Key West and Sloppy Joe’s: The First Fifty Years.
For Sharon, introducing the “spirit of place” to Florida Keys’ visitors is a special delight. Through research, writing, photography, publishing and guided tours, Sharon aims to capture and transmit that “spirit of place."