Old Palm News

Tour Florida’s only remaining House of Refuge

August 22, 2014

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At the turn of the 20th century, transportation in Florida was fairly undeveloped. People typically walked, rode horseback or traveled by ship. Unfortunately, shipwrecks were common. To aid shipwrecked sailors and travelers along Florida’s then sparsely populated Atlantic coast, the government built 10 Houses of Refuge filled with lifesaving supplies. Only one of those houses remains. It’s in Jensen Beach, a little more than a half-hour drive from Old Palm Golf Club. The House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar is the oldest structure in Martin County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It makes for a fascinating visit, as the House of Refuge has become a museum decorated with a collection of period furnishings and maritime objects. You can tour the boathouse, the keeper’s house, and even a wooden tower constructed during World War II as a lookout for German submarines. There are also some Indian artifacts that pre-date the House of Refuge and the remains of the “Georges Valentine,” a ship that wrecked in 1904 that still lies not far offshore. The House of Refuge is open daily. For more information, call 772-225-1875 or go to www.houseofrefugefl.org  


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