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Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge

301 SE MacArthur Boulevard
Hutchinson Island
Stuart, Florida 34996
Martin County

This site is located in the Southeast region of the state.


SOUTHBOUND I-95: Exit #67, Indrio Road. and follow Indrio Road to U.S. Hwy 1. Turn right and follow signs to South A1A (approximately nineteen miles past the Elliott Museum) to MacArthur Blvd. (traffic light). Turn left to House of Refuge on left. NORTHBOUND I-95: Exit #61 (Stuart/Indiantown) and travel on SR-76 to forth traffic signal at Monterey Road. Turn right on Monterey Road (stay left at fork) and continue to end. Turn right on East Ocean Boulevard (over two drawbridges) to MacArthur Boulevard (traffic light). Turn right to House of Refuge on left.

This site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge first saw duty in 1876 as an U.S. Life Saving Service station on Florida’s east coast. Authorized by Congress in June 1874, this structure served as an aid station to shipwreck victims for many years. The U.S. Coast Guard operated this site between 1914 and 1940. The U.S. Navy took control of the facility late in 1941 and, with U.S. Coast Guard personnel, operated coastal patrols to guard against U-boats and hostile aircraft. Coastguardsmen used the structure as quarters while manning the watchtower and patrolling the beach. While not boarded at this site, horses and dogs were employed in coastal patrol duties along the Atlantic Coast.

Deactivated in 1945, this last remaining Life Saving Station became the property of Martin County and, in 1969, became the House of Refuge Museum. With a mission to “…interpret for the public the history of American life in the context of the St. Lucie River Region and Florida…,” the facility presents permanent exhibits and photographs relating to WWII. Included in the collection is a map that locates those ships sunk by U-boats in the Atlantic off the Florida coast.

Special recognition to Susan Duncan, Curator at the Elliott Museum, for her assistance with this entry.


Historical Society of Martin County