Located in St. Augustine on historic Aviles Street, the Father O'Reilly House is believed to be one of the oldest structures in the city, second to Castillo de San Marcos. The structure dates back to 1691 and is located in the section of the city that was part of the original 1565 settlement established by Pedro Menendez de Aviles. Father O'Reilly used the house as a place for spirituality and education until his death, then the Sisters of St. Joseph gained care of the home.
The house was constructed
in 1691 during the First Spanish Period, with portions of the building having
been in existence since 1565. The house is made of tabby and coquina and became
the home of Father Miguel O'Reilly in 1785 when he purchased it. He was an Irish
priest in the service of the Spanish crown and made this house a place of
spirituality and education.
Father O'Reilly included
a clause in his will that left the property to a religious order devoted to
education. The house was left to the Sisters of St. Joseph and has been under
their care since 1866. The Sisters of St. Joseph were recruited from Le Puy,
France by then Bishop of Savannah, Augustin Verot, who would later become the
first Bishop of St. Augustine.
The Museum focuses on
three main areas: the history of the house, the Catholic tradition it
represents, which has been kept alive since 1565, and the story of the Sisters
of St. Joseph.
The museum includes the
six-room house and garden. The garden contains native species of plants. Artifacts on display to show the city’s extensive
history include musical instruments the Sisters used to teach with and old
lesson plans and papers documenting the history of its Catholic tradition. It
was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1974.