Edward Leedskalnin was born in Riga, Latvia and, at 26, became engaged to 16-year old Agnes Scuffs. She ditched him the day before their wedding. He eventually landed in Homestead just outside of Miami, where he spent the rest of his life building Coral Castle as testimony of his love for his “sweet sixteen.”
Harvesting coral from his property, Ed spent 28 years building this compound, until his death in 1951. He was apparently only 5 feet tall, weighing 100 lbs. Intensely private, he did much of the work in the middle of the night, unseen by neighbors and, to this day, no one understands how he was able to carve and move tons of coral using only the simplest of hand tools.
This is the Throne Room, from where Ed envisioned that he and Agnes could one day survey the property. Despite several invitations, she never visited the site:
Moon Fountain is carved from 3 gigantic pieces of coral, and the pond is lined with cement, because coral is very porous:
This element, situated atop the North Wall, is called the Crown:
The tower houses Ed’s workshop and modest living quarters:
The view from Ed’s bedroom; on the right is a 28-ton obelisk, which is larger than the great upright at Stonehenge:
Lovely bougainvillea grows throughout the property, perfectly complementing the coral:
Ed imagined that the Governor, Senators and Representatives would sit around the massive Florida Table and make decisions about matters of the state:
Weighing approximately 30 tons and situated just outside the compound walls, the Polaris Telescope is perfectly focused on the North Star:
The Nine Ton Gate is Ed’s engineering pièce de résistance — it’s a perfectly balanced chunk of coral that fits within a 1/4 inch of its walls and can be turned with no effort whatsoever:
The cavernous gift shop features this:
Yesss! The über poseur himself [who is performing in Cincinnati Friday night, BTdubs] wrote “Sweet Sixteen” about Ed and Agnes, and the video was apparently shot on location. I’m not really a Billy Idol fan, but the song’s not half bad. This is the only official-looking video I’ve been able to find, but there’s got to be another one that’s more Coral Castle-oriented:
You might figure that admission is no longer 10 cents. In fact, it’s $15!!! Not to get overly picky but, when it comes to the esoteric world of Dementia Concretia, the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, AL is $7, while the Hartman Rock Garden in Springfield, OH is free.
Just to harp on the admission price a bit more, as we paid, the cashier encouraged us to join the guided tour that had just started. Which was in Spanish! Instead, we wandered around on our own, making this probably the most expensive 20 minutes I’ve ever experienced. Cool place, but WTF.