House of Refuge side view

Why You Need To Visit the House of Refuge in Florida

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The Treasure Coast of Florida is calling your name. Can you hear it?

Well, I heard my name and I dropped everything to chase down what awaited me!

Waves crashing on the rocks along the atlantic coastline in martin county florida

I found myself in Martin County where I was embraced by both peaceful beauty and exciting adventure.

One of my stops was the fascinating House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar.

It’s an experience you do not want to miss.

House of Refuge side view

What Is The House of Refuge

Along the Atlantic coastline of Florida once stood ten houses of refuge for shipwrecked sailors.

Today, only one remains and it is the oldest building in Martin County.

House of Refuge historical marker sign

This house stands as a memorial to the incredible mission it once conducted.

The House of Refuge dates back to 1876 when ships were plentiful but population along the coast was not. Sailors who managed to survive a shipwreck and arrive on shore often died of thirst and starvation.

Thus the idea of the Houses of Refuge. Those who committed their lives to this mission, lived in the houses and walked along the shoreline to search for victims.

This last remaining House of Refuge went through seasons of changes until 1953 when Martin County bought it and the surrounding 16 acres to be transformed into a museum.

Today, the House of Refuge is a must visit in Stuart, Florida.

Not only does it offer a stunning, close up view of the Atlantic coast, but the museum is well worth admiring.


What To Do At The House of Refuge


The museum within the House of Refuge takes you back to life along the sea more than a hundred years ago.

It is set up with living quarters as they were in 1904.

House of Refuge Living Quarters

You will also be taken through the history of the life saving equipment used by the Keepers of the House of Refuge.

Brief history of Pirate Don Pedro Gilbert

This can be a group tour with a knowledgeable guide, or you can purchase a ticket to peruse on your own.

Atlanitc Coastline in Martin County Florida


The House of Refuge sits on 16 acres right along the coast. It is simply beautiful to enjoy.

Sit in a rocker on the front porch of the House and catch glimpses of the wildlife along the Atlantic coast with the crashing waves as your soundtrack.

Or stroll around to the other side of the house and admire the Indian River views.

It’s because of its ideal locale that many weddings take place at the House of Refuge.

Waves crashing on the shore

During low tide, take a walk along the coast.

On a more blustery day at high tide, you may find yourself getting wet!

So keep an eye out for the weather.

House of Refuge from the ocean side with sun behind it


Just 100 yards off the coast from the House of Refuge sits the wreckage of Georges Valentine.

The water is shallow where the ship remains buried under the sea, making it the perfect spot to dive or snorkel for incredible views.

Shifting sand gives divers a variety of discoveries throughout the year.

There is also a plethora of marine life including eels, stingrays, puffer fish, and so many more, that have made the Georges Valentine home.

House of Refuge Operating Hours

When you find yourself in Martin County, Florida the House of Refuge is an absolute must to include on your itinerary. You will not be disappointed. 

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