Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge - Hutchinson Island

I have been almost too busy to explore lately but I decided to take a short break and have a look around my new home town for something obscure and off the beaten track. Just a short drive along the beach and I came across Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge. The 10 parking spaces told me this was my kind of place.

This little museum among the giant, modern coastal houses and condos has an incredible history in which our tour guide was well versed. Built in 1876 it was one of 10 rescue stations built along the coast of Florida. They were installed some 40 miles apart so if you were unfortunate enough to find yourself as a shipwrecked sailor, you would have a 20 mile or less walk to the closest rescue station. The sole job of the keeper was to feed and clothe any shipwreck survivors until their eventual rescue. I did not get a really good idea of how many shipwrecks a typical station handled in it's life time but this one had at least two famous wrecks to contend with.

One of the hard to believe facts I learned on my visit was that the population of Florida at the time was around 400. I assume that did not include the Native American population but even so, I passed more people on the road than that on the 15 minute drive over. It would be hard to imagine the loneliness and self reliance of the keepers in these stations. The bear trap inside and the story that goes along with it is a pretty good indication there was no corner grocery store. In fact the town of Stuart barely existed as more then a cleared spot in the wilderness.

Another important fact, there is no bar. Gilbert's Bar is more of a tiny sand bar than a drinking establishment.

The House of Rescue had a long history including as a submarine lookout post during World War II. This is the last of the Houses of Rescue and very well preserved. The house also has a million dollar view.

I have a few more photos from this unique museum so if you are interested in exploring further, click here


  1. I love this place! It also has pirate history ... are you living up in Stuart now?

  2. @ Maria - hey. It's been a while. If you look back a few posts you will find my new house. I split my time between Stuart and Hollywood.

  3. Please don't tell me you went to Gilbert's Bar hoping it was a tavern?!?!?! I guess you could always sue for false advertising ...

  4. @ Red - According to the tour guide, some visitors as when the bar opens on a fairly regular basis. My guess is that a few significant others my not be providing full disclose in an effort to visit the museum.

  5. Some lovely pictures. Loved the history behind the bars. I wasn't aware the coast of Florida was prone to wrecks.

  6. @ Ramakant - I think the best thing about blogging is sharing across the world. We are very prone to wicked storms and shallow reefs. Ships loaded with gold or in the case of the most famous wreck in this area, mahogany wood all took their chances passing this way.

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  9. You might want to switch off the Anonymous comments for a bit - unless unlike me, you actually LEARNED something from the above comments ...

  10. @Red - I see the sneaky little bastard are getting past the spam filter. Ok - I think I blocked them now.

    1. Good....What a bunch of nonsense nony mouse wrote. Thanks.