The House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar is the only remaining House of Refuge. Built as one of ten along the east coast of Florida, it is the oldest structure in Martin County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Houses of Refuge were designated as havens for shipwrecked sailors and travelers along the sparsely populated Atlantic coastline of Florida. Run by the United States Lifesaving Service, the Houses played a critical role in a time when sailing ships dominated the world commerce.
The historic structure has weathered many storms and provided needed shelter for shipwreck survivors, including those of the Georges Valentine, an Italian brigantine whose wreckage remains just 100 yards off the rocky shoreline, providing an ideal dive site.
The House of Refuge continues to withstand the test of time, while offering a fascinating look at a bygone lifestyle along the sea.
The museum today has been restored to showcase historical lifesaving equipment and the Keeper’s living quarters as they were in 1904.
Celebrate the season in true Florida style: by the sea! Head to Martin County’s oldest structure, the House of Refuge, for merry and bright holiday open house.
The House of Refuge will host their fourth annual Holiday Celebration on Sunday, Dec. 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 301 S.E. MacArthur Blvd. on Hutchinson Island in Stuart. Admission is free and a complimentary shuttle bus will provide transportation from the Hutchinson Island Marriott beginning at 11 a.m.
“This community event has become extremely popular and is one of our favorite days of the year,” says Jim McCormick, keeper of the House of Refuge. “Our open house features traditional holiday decorations and refreshments, live music, tours of the House of Refuge, and shopping opportunities in our Boathouse Gift Shop.”
This event is made possible through the efforts of numerous community organizations including the Garden Club of Stuart, the Martin County Master Gardeners, and House of Refuge volunteers.
The House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar is one of 10 houses of refuge built along the sparsely populated east coast of Florida at a time when sailing ships dominated world commerce. Constructed in 1876 on the “St. Lucie Rocks,” an outcropping of the Anastasia Formation that underlies much of Florida, it is the only house of refuge that remains today.
In addition to showcasing historical lifesaving equipment, the House of Refuge provides a glimpse of turn-of-the-century living along Florida’s coast. Areas available for public viewing include the boathouse, kitchen, dining room, parlor, bedroom and a lookout tower constructed during World War II.
Learn more about
the House of Refuge Lecture Series and workshops, or call 772-225-1875.