Gilberts Bar House of Refuge

John Short was so nice to let Kent and I use his car on Saturday to do some sight-seeing. He is at a ship yard in Stuart Florida about five miles from River Forest were we are docked.  John and Pam are having some work done to their boat at Stuart Shipyard.  When all the work is done on their boat they will be continuing on the loop.

Kent and I decided to have lunch at the Boathouse in Stuart it offers an upscale atmosphere along with a great view.  We didn’t find the food very good at least what we ordered.

They have waterfront outdoor seating with a scenic view but we decided to eat inside as the weather is on the cooler side, with gusty winds.  This is a picture of the waterfront view of the Atlantic ICW (intercostal waterway).  They have boat advisory out for this weekend and we are staying put.


We decided to tour House of Refuge located on the southern end of Hutchinson Island out side of Stuart.  We’re so glad we did, as we have heard of the Refuge home but didn’t really no much about them.  This is a picture of the waves coming off the Atlantic Ocean at the House of Refuge.  So glad we are sightseeing and not traveling in this weather.

This is the history of Gilberts Bar House of Refuge

Gilberts House of Refuge was one of the ten original houses built-in 1875 on the St Lucie Rocks.  Built along the sparsely populated Atlantic coast of Florida, at a time when sailing ships dominated world commerce.

The 10 homes were evenly spaced from Key Biscayne to what is now Daytona Beach.  This house is  the oldest building on the Treasure Coast and the last of 10 lifesaving stations. They were commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, built here to assist shipwrecked sailors.  They had signs on the beach pointing to them.


The cottage is located on the southern end of Hutchinson Island just across the Indian River Lagoon from Stuart.  It has a spectacular views of both the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean.o-21

House of refuge had no life saving crews.  They were occupied by a keeper and his family, whose job was to walk along the shore in both directions after storms, searching for shipwreck victims.  He was required to keep a daily log and submit wreck reports.  These homes consisted of a kitchen, dinning room, parlor, and bedroom on the first floor, with bedrooms on the second floor.

Because of the close proximity to the ocean the houses were constantly in need of repairs and modification.  The historic structure has weathered many storms and provided needed shelter for  shipwrecked survivors, including those of the Georges Valentine.  The Georges Valentine was an Italian brigantine.  On October 16, 1904 a hurricane blew the Italian barque all the way from Havana, Cuba to the Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge where it smashed into the rocks.  The shipwreck killed five on board with seven being rescued. Captain William E. Res and his wife were the Keepers of the House of Refuge at the time and aided the seven survivors.  On October 17, during the same storm the Spanish ship Cosme Calzado wrecked three miles north of the Georges Valentine.  The 15 survivors joined the crew from the Georges Valentine at the House of Refuge.  Captain Res and his wife lived in the House of Refuge until May 1907.

In 1915 when the first US Coast Guard was formed, Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge became a Coast Guard station #207.


When the U.S. entered World War 11 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 the now Coast Guard Station once again gained importance.  In 1942 a lookout tower and surrounding building were built and served as a lookout for German U-boats, during World War 11.

Gilbert’s Bar Coast Guard Station was decommissioned in April of 1945 and abandoned to the elements.  It sat abandoned and empty for eight years until in 1953 when the Martin County Board of Commissioners purchased the building along with 16.8 acres of beach front land as government surplus for $500.


In 1955 the historical society preserved the building for use as a museum and a refuge for sea turtles.    The House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar provides a look at turn of the century living along the coast.

The museum today had been restored to showcase historical lifesaving equipment.


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