Let’s start with one of the most famous and apparently the oldest building in the entire Western Hemisphere. What if I told you that this building wasn’t even built here originally? Wouldn’t make sense right? Well that would be the case almost every time except for the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach. The building’s existence actually dates back 1141 Spain in the city of Segovia. For almost seven centuries, the building was occupied by Cistercian monks but in the early Seventeenth century, the main structure and outbuildings were seized away from the monks and turned into a stable and granary.
There it stood for about 100 years functioning for commerce as opposed to worship until in 1925, William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaper magnate, decided to purchase the structures that made up the monastery and surrounding grounds. It was his vision to see this piece of Spanish history preserved in the United States and particularly Florida, a place where so much Spanish history already existed. Stone by stone the buildings were taken apart. But their journey was only just beginning. These thousands of stones, packed into over 11,000 wooden crates were then placed on a steamer and sent to Florida and dropped off in North Miami Beach. After 30 years of storage and planning by some of the most ambitious developers in the Miami area, the Ancient Spanish Monastery was rebuilt to its original form. It’s now preserved and supported by the Ancient Spanish Monastery Foundation that aims to bring the community together around the oldest structure in the Western Hemisphere.