Description - Ralph Munroe first visited South Florida in 1877 while on vacation from New York. His next visit to the area was not as pleasant. In 1881, doctors told Munroe that his wife Eva and her sister Adeline suffered from tuberculosis. According to Munroe, doctors warned that without an absolute change of climate, they would be incurable. Munroe immediately thought of beautiful Biscayne Bay, and at once prepared to take them there. Despite his efforts, illness took its toll. Eva passed away at their camp along the bank of the Miami River. Her sister's death followed and Munroe was met with the news of the death of his infant daughter upon his arrival back in New York.
Copyright: Florida Division of Recreation & Parks
The Barnacle State Historic Site
He returned to South Florida in 1882 to visit the grave of his wife and to help an acquaintance open a hotel on the shore of Biscayne Bay. Ralph Munroe originally purchased 40 acres of bay front land in 1886, building his main house in 1891. The house was a one-story structure that was raised off the ground on wood pilings. Its central room was octagonal in shape and Munroe came to call his home the "Barnacle." It remained a bungalow until more space was needed in 1908. At that time the whole structure, as it stood, was lifted and a new first floor inserted below.
The Barnacle house survived the disastrous hurricane of 1926 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992 with only minimal damage.
As a historian, naturalist and photographer, Commodore Munroe was a man far ahead of his time. His home, the Barnacle, reflects the image of a simpler time in South Florida's past. His property, home and its contents easily depict a lifestyle that exists no more.
- The Barnacle State Historic Site contains the oldest home in Dade County in its original location. Situated on the shore of Biscayne Bay, the Barnacle was the home of Ralph Middleton Munroe, one of Coconut Grove's most charming and influential pioneers. The Florida Park Service acquired the remaining five acres of Munroe's original 40-acre homesite from his descendants in 1973. It is one of the best preserved historic sites you will find and a visit here provides a glimpse into the rich past of the Era of the Bay.
Recreation - A variety of special events take place each year in addition to regularly scheduled guided tours. Special events include musical entertainment performed under moonlit skies; the revival of Commodore Ralph Munroe's original Washington's Birthday Regatta, which takes place on beautiful Biscayne Bay; and the Commodore's Birthday Party, an old-fashioned picnic at The Barnacle. All these events are open to the public with active participation encouraged. Call the park office for current schedule and registration information.
Climate - Southern Florida lies within a subtropical climate. It is usually hot and humid in the summer with brief afternoon thundershowers. It is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit with averages reaching above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging above 64 degrees Fahrenheit (above 18 Celsius). The average precipitation for the southeast area is more than 60 inches per year. The powerful rays of the sun make it a good idea to wear hats and sunglasses along with using a SPF-15 (or above) sunscreen when planning outdoor activities.
The Barnacle is located in Coconut Grove (Miami) at 3485 Main Highway near the intersection of W. Flager St and I 95.