The oldest structure in the Western Hemisphere, the resurrection of the Ancient Spanish Monastery, in 1953, was called the largest jigsaw puzzle in American history by Time Magazine.
The Ancient Spanish Monastery in Miami, Florida originally constructed in the 12th Century, the monastery traveled from Spain to the United States almost 1000 years later.
History of the Ancient Spanish Monastery
The Monastery has a rather long and chaotic history. The story begins in Spain, in the Province of Segovia, about 1133. Originally named Monastery of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, it was later named in honor of St. Bernard de Clairvaux, a Cistercian monk and mystic.
After a social revolution in the 1830s, the cloisters and monastery were seized, sold, and became a granary and stables. Approximately 1000 years later, the Cloisters and the out buildings were purchased by American millionaire and publisher, William Randolph Hearst.
Every brick was packed into a numbered crate – (11,000 crates!) and shipped to the United States. However, when they arrived in the U.S. there was an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in Europe. Every box was opened,inspected, and the hay which had been used to cushion the stones was burned. When the bricks were put back in their boxes, no care was given to the order in which they were replaced in the boxes.
Hearst fell on tough times and consequently, the monastery was not reassembled in his lifetime. The entire lot sat in a warehouse until 1952. After his death the monastery was purchased by William Edgemon and Raymond Moss at the cost of 1.5 million dollars. Savvy entrepreneurs, they thought it would make a good tourist attraction.
It took nineteen months to put the monastery back together. Imagine putting putting together (11,000 boxes!), that had been packed in no particular order, into what you see today! Incredible!
I highly recommend a visit to the Monastery if you are in the Miami area. Where else can you see a 12th century structure in the United States? If you love history or architecture, it’s not to be missed. It’s a miracle that it exists here at all. The monastery is a true hidden gem.
Today the Monastery and Chapel are an active Episcopal church. Services are held in English and Spanish on Sundays. It is often used for events like weddings and photo shoots.
If you read the website, don’t miss this page which shows period photographs documenting the reconstruction.
IF You Go:
Touring hours are Monday through Saturday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sunday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.
All materials ©pennysadler 2013