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House of Refuge Museum

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About House of Refuge Museum

The House of Refuge is a unique museum on the Treasure Coast. Also known as Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge, this is the only remaining house of its type. There were ten built initially by the Treasury Department in 1876. They were meant to be a haven for victims of shipwrecks and sailors along the coast of Florida. Keepers and their families provided a place to stay, as well as food and medical care in these houses, as part of the US Life-Saving Service program.

The Service merged with the US Revenue Cutter Service in 1915, and the US Coast Guard was formed as a result. Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge then became a US Coast Guard Station, remaining active through World War II. A tower was added to be able to scan for German U-boats after freighters were hit off the Treasure Coast in 1942.

In April 1945, Gilbert’s Bar Coast Guard Station was decommissioned, and today, the House of Refuge Museum is the oldest structure remaining in Martin County. The Museum is located on several historic registries, and for visitors, it’s a chance to explore American and maritime history.

Volunteers lead tours of the building itself, as well as Keepers’ Logs. Visitors can see shipwreck reports and get a feel for what life was like at the time at the House of Refuge, with the furniture and equipment on display.

The Museum’s setting makes it a unique attraction as well—it’s on the St. Lucie Rocks, which is part of the Anastasia Formation. Located on the ocean, there are scenic views, and for divers, directly off the shore of the Museum is the Georges Valentine wreck. The Georges Valentine wreck is one of just a few underwater, designated archaeological sites. The survivors of the shipwreck sought shelter in the House of Refuge in 1904.

The Martin County Historical Society owns the House of Refuge.

House of Refuge Museum Gallery

House of Refuge Museum Videos

Frequently Asked Questions about House of Refuge Museum

The House of Refuge was decommissioned by the government in 1945. It was empty until 1953, at which point Martin County bought it and the 16 acres surrounding it. The Martin County Historical Society was formed in 1955 to protect the House of Refuge and turn it into a museum

The House of Refuge in Stuart, FL, was meant to provide a safe shelter for people who were sailors and victims of shipwrecks. Then it became a US Coast Guard Station, and now it’s a museum.

House of Refuge is at Gilbert’s Bar. Gilbert’s Bar is also known as St. Lucie Rocks. It’s two miles north of the St. Lucie Inlet on the Anastasia Formation. The Anastasia Formation is known as one of the most prominent geological features along the eastern seaboard.

The only remaining House of Refuge, this is the oldest structure in Martin County, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

  • Monday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Tuesday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Wednesday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Thursday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Friday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Saturday

    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Sunday

    1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  • Local time

    May 26, 2024 9:31 pm

House of Refuge Museum Amenities

  • Beach Access
  • Kid Friendly
  • Parking Available
  • Restrooms (Public)
  • Walk-ins Welcome
  • Wheelchair Accessible

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