Created by the eccentric Latvian American Edward Leedskalnin (1887–1951), the Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida is one of the roadside attractions of legend. The oolite limestone structure is entirely gated and bizarre beyond explanation. Leedskalnin single-handedly built the Coral Castle reportedly using only reverse magnetism and his supernatural abilities.
The story of the Castle is simultaneously heartbreaking and creepy. It goes that Edward Leedskalnin was engaged to a 16 year old woman, and was rejected one day before their planned wedding. Suffering the great loss of his “sweet-16”, Leedskalnin left Latfia for the United States and built his castle as a tribute to his lost love. It should be noted that he used the term “sweet-16” more as an ideal than an actual person. It is true however that he never was never engaged again and lived the rest of his life alone building his castle and giving tours to whomever showed up at his gate.
Edward spent more than 28 years building Coral Castle and refused to allow anyone to view him while he worked the entire time. The stones are fastened together without mortar, and are set on top of each other using their own weight to stay in place. He said that the only tool he used was a perpetual motion holder. It is more likely that he used leverage and hand tools since a perpetual motion holder is not a thing.
Leedskalnin asked for donations of twenty five cents, but let visitors enter free if they had no money. There are signs carved into rocks at the front gate to “Ring Bell Twice”. If visitors came to see his construction, he would come down from his living quarters in the second story of the castle tower close to the gate and conduct the tour.
There are many notable features at the Coral Castle including a barbecue, water well, fountain, a sundial, and lots of furniture, but the most impressive is the 8-foot tall, 8 ton revolving stone gate. Over time the gate has stopped rotating on its axis, but when it was installed a small child could easily open it with one hand. The gate was so important to Leedskalnin that he referred to the entire site as “Rock Gate”. It was only after his death and the purchase of the property that it became known as the Coral Castle.
In November 1951, Leedskalnin became ill, placed a sign on the door of the front gate that said “Going to the Hospital” and hopped on the the bus to take his last trip to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. He was able to leave the hospital but suffered a stroke at some point either while he was at the hospital or shortly after leaving and died less than a month later of a kidney infection. He was 64 years old.
In 1984, the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places under the name “Rock Gate” but was changed to “Coral Castle” in 2011.
Coral Castle Facts
- The largest stone weighs more than 27 tons and the tallest monoliths are 25 ft (7.6 m) tall each.
- The Coral Castle is currently a privately owned and operated tourist attraction.
- The address is 28655 South Dixie Highway Miami, FL 3303. At the intersection of South Dixie Highway (U.S. 1) and SW 157th Avenue.
- Most of the objects are made from single pieces of stone that weigh an average of 14 tons each.
- It was the new owners that turned it into a tourist attraction and changed the name of Rock Gate to The Coral Castle.
- According to a Latvian account, the girl known as “Sweet-16” did exist, but her name was actually Hermīne Lūsis.