The Oldest Building in Florida, According to the Discoverer

L. Cane

The United States is considered a young country in comparison to older countries like China and Japan. But that doesn't mean that there aren't very old buildings within the United States. The website the Discoverer recently released a list of the oldest buildings in each of the fifty states. The task wasn't straightforward because the site had to carefully consider what constitutes an actual building structure and whether a newer structure added to a ruin or an old foundation would count as a building.

What is the Oldest Building in Florida?:

The Discoverer had to make a judgment call when determining Florida's oldest building. It ultimately settled upon Saint Bernard de Clairvaux Church, now in North Miami Beach. The Discoverer admits that this decision is somewhat controversial since the medieval monastery was originally built in Spain, not the United States, in 1133.

How Did Saint Bernard de Clairvaux Church End Up in the United States?:

The structure is now in the United States because newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst purchased the structure in 1925 with the intention of relocating the building to New York. The structure was dismantled stone by stone and shipped in 11,000 boxes.

After the Great Depression, Hearst hit difficult financial times and sold the monastery to two Miami businessmen. The monastery wasn't the popular tourist attraction that the businessmen were hoping for, so they eventually sold it to an Episcopal Church. The building still serves as a church, and is a popular location for weddings. It is located at 16711 West Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach, Florida.

Why Some Purists Consider St. Augustine's Castillo de San Marcos as Florida's Oldest Building:

The Discoverer admits that not everyone will agree that the Church is a legitimate Florida structure since it wasn't originally built in the United States, or even in Florida. In that case, the site says that Castillo de San Marcos in St Augustine would be Florida's next oldest building. Built in St. Augustine in 1695, the site is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Today, the site is now a national park that sits on 20 acres of land that is open to the public. It is located at 1 South Castillo Drive, St. Augustine, Florida.

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