Saturday, January 9, 2010

A sculpture garden and tribute to lost love

"Cut from various megalithic stones, many weighing several tons. He spent over 28 years cutting stone and building Coral Castle after being jilted by his 16-year-old fiancee Agnes Scuffs just one day before the wedding. Originally built in Florida City and called Rock Gate Park [shown in this image below], it was later moved to Homestead around 1936. Coral Castle was added to the National Register of historic places in 1984." -caption from images from the Florida State Archives

State Archives of Florida

Images from Ed's self-published writings

The Coral Castle had been on my "list" of must-see places to visit in Florida for a very long time. So when I realized a trip to the Keys would pass right by it, I brought my whole family to see this amazing site. The marketing material says this about "Florida's Stonehenge":

One tiny man, obsessed with his love for a young girl, labored for 28 years to build a coral rock monument to her. Incredibly, he carved and moved over 1,100 tons of rock without human assistance. Did he know the secrets of the Great Pyramids? Did he have superhuman powers? Visit the Coral Castle and discover one of the world's most incredible wonders.

The story behind the castle begins when Edward Leedskalinin got left at the altar by his 16 year old bride to be. Ed wrote later "a girl is to a fellow the best thing in this world, but to have the best one second hand, is humiliating." He never got over Agnes so he came to South Florida and poured his energy into carving coral and reshaping the landscape into what has become one of Florida's most interesting attractions.

State Archives of Florida

While I don't care to speculate as to how Ed created his masterpiece, I will say it is a very impressive monument to one's mans broken heart. Having seen it on television and read about it in books, I found it smaller than I had imagined but more colorful and beautiful. The current owners have carefully landscaped the old place and put down mulch to keep it looking spiffy. The images I'd seen made the sculptures look dingy and bleak; perhaps it was the brilliant December blue sky that seemed to make the garden-like setting sparkle. Or maybe it was just the good energy of my family having made it through another Christmas and enjoying the moment of being on a road trip with people we love. Sorry Ed never got to know the feeling.

Mother Ephemera poses outside the Coral Castle Gate

Much of the equipment used to build the Coral Castle was made from old auto parts

Ed spent the last half of his life studying magnetism and electricity

Florida shaped rock

A guide told us this sculpture represented Ed's Cosmology

Coral Castle as it looked in the past, from the State Archives of Florida

Current view with added mulch and landscaping

Many of Ed's sculptures resemble arm chairs; in the background the building where Ed lived with no electricity or plumbing
Ed's "telescope"

Mother Ephemera showing Ed's sundial, which was accurate

The famous rock gate is now gated off. The guide told us it still moves a little, but with great effort. After being examined by scientists, they were baffled at how Ed created it and were never quite able to re-construct it as it was in Ed's day. Image from the State Archives of Florida.


  1. I have lived in Miami most of my life and visited the Coral Castle for the first time this Christmas. Your photos are better! If your still in Miami you should stop by Vizcaya.

  2. Kellie- I did and I'll have a post on Vizcaya in the very near future!