The Artman Collection began back in the late 1800s when Carlos Recio from Carambuay Cuba arrived in Key West with a rumored bag of gold in hand to purchase property. The island's economy was booming with an influx of Cubans fleeing Spanish persecution who brought clubs, cigars, woodworking, fishing, and manufacturing. 

Carlos seized the opportunity to purchase property on Front and Simonton streets and built a thriving wholesale grocery business. He married Emelina and started a family that continued to grow as did his businesses. Carlos purchased properties on Duval Street between Caroline and Charles streets and built an array of structures known among locals as the Recio block. Carlos, Emelina, and their nine children resided above what is now the Bull and Whistle on Duval.

The Recios were a close-knit family and often enjoyed gathering in the dining hall, sharing meals sometimes delivered by cable from a restaurant next door. Embraced as an esteemed family and businessman, the local community  elected Carlos to Monroe County Commissioner. 

After Carlos’ passing, his sons continued to run the successful family grocery business until it tragically burned down years later. Emelina was forced to portion and sell most of the Recio block to meet the family’s obligations. Emelina used the funds to purchase homes for daughters Emelina, Estela, and Herminia and divided the rest among her six sons. 

The Recio family later endorsed a note for $110,000 to Estela’s husband, L.P. Artman, Sr., to purchase the Key West Citizen. He continued his grandfather Carlos’ legacy and purchased a commercial building on Fleming Street as well as residential properties that make up The Artman Collection. L.P. Sr. and Emelina passed all of their property onto their sons, L.P. Jr. and Norman. L.P. Artman Jr. became a writer, publisher, and real estate developer who founded the Key West Star Press, Florida Keys Wholesalers print and souvenir business, and converted the family’s residential properties into apartment buildings that is now the Artman Collection, still owned and managed by his children and grandchildren today.