The Barnacle Historic State Park is a unique and historical state park located on Florida’s east coast in the Coconut Grove area in Miami, Florida. It is home to the remnants of what was once a wide swath of tropical hardwoods that extended for miles into the cities heart. Today, a beautiful historical mansion serves as a museum and the original gardens area serves as a reminder of the once vast Miami Hammock.
Located in downtown Coconut Grove, “The Barnacle” is one of the oldest homes in the Miami-Dade County area. Ralph Middleton Munroe was one of the areas most colorful and influential residents. After the loss of his wife and daughter to influenza in 1882, he decided to return to their favorite vacation spot in Miami and purchase land. He bought 40 acres for $400 cash and a sailboat worth the same.
In 1887 Munroe built a boathouse and workshop for his hobby, boatbuilding. It quickly became the local hangout for the sailing community and soon thereafter became the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club location for locals sailing enthusiasts. Over the years, the boathouse became impractical for living quarters due to the frequent visitors and he decided to build a home on the bluff above the boathouse in 1891.
The Barnacle, as the home was soon named, became a recognized piece of Miami culture among the residents. Because of its hip-roof design, high and dry pilling design and strategically placed windows and doors, it was aptly named the barnacle because of its clinging ability to the shore in the many hurricanes that have struck the coast.
Because of the areas dependence on maritime vessels to transport goods and services, Munroe-AKA the commodore-built a state of the art facility to transport and repair vessels. His unique boat facility and vast knowledge of vessel design and construction served the community well until the boathouse was destroyed in 1926.
He rebuilt the boathouse with cables anchored into the limestone bedrock and with breakaway walls to accommodate the storm surge of future hurricanes. While he never saw his new design in action, it survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992 as the worst Hurricane in recent Florida history, underscored only by Hurricane Katrina.
Guided tours of the grounds and home/museum are available for just $3 for adults and $1 for kids 6-12. For more information about this historically significant Miami, Florida state park, visit the website here.