Florida pioneer, yacht designer, photographer, and author Ralph Middleton Munroe published, along with Vincent Gilpin, the South Florida classic The Commodore’s Story: The Early Days on Biscayne Bay (1930). Take a guided tour of the home he built for his family in historic Coconut Grove (3485 Main Highway, Miami), picnic on the grounds, visit replicas of his boats, and enjoy geo-caching through the lovely natural setting. (Coconut Grove is inside Greater Miami.)
Be sure to look up tour times before you go as you must be on an official tour in order to see the house. The grounds, however, are open to the public on a self-guided basis. Visitors are asked for $2 per person when picking up the map. Parking is available at the curb or at an inexpensive lot nearby. (We paid $5 for the day on an off-season Sunday.)
The house faces the water where Munroe docked his boats and is set back on a large meadow-like lawn. Behind the house is a breezy wooded area with a winding walkway that leads to the property entrance on Main.
Even if you miss out on the guided tour, the peaceful environment feels like a retreat, with a surprise or two. For example, on the side of the house is the mystery of “the hole.” Its original purpose is anyone’s guess.
According to the Florida State Parks website page for The Barnacle Historic State Park, “This beautiful house with a whimsical name dates to a simpler time. The Barnacle, built in 1891, offers a glimpse of frontier life during ‘The Era of the Bay,’ when all travel to and from Miami was by boat.” It remains “…the oldest house in Miami-Dade County still standing in its original location,” and has many original furnishings.
For more information about Ralph Middleton Munroe, visit his Finding Aid page on the University of Miami Libraries Special Collections website, which offers online opportunities to search through Munroe family archives and more than 1,000 images connected to his life and work.
The Barnacle is the sixth stop on Florida Trail #2!