Edward Leedskalnin was born in Riga, Latvia on August 10th, 1887. When Ed was 26 years old, he was engaged to be married to his one true Love, Agnes Scuffs. Agnes was ten years younger than Ed; he affectionately referred to Agnes as his “Sweet Sixteen”. Agnes cancelled the wedding just one day before the ceremony.
Heartbroken and deeply saddened by this tragic loss, Ed set out on a lifelong quest to create a monument to his lost love that has culminated into one of the world’s most remarkable accomplishments. Ed’s unusual creation is called the Coral Castle, (it was originally called “Rock Gate Park”). Ed without any outside assistance or large machinery single-handedly built the Coral Castle. He carved and sculpted over 1,100 tons of coral rock as a testimony to his lost love, Agnes.
What makes Ed’s work remarkable is the fact that he was just over 5 feet tall and weighed only 100 pounds. The coral that he worked on was sometimes 4,000 feet thick. Incredibly, he cut and moved huge coral blocks using only hand tools. He had acquired some skills working in lumber camps and came from a family of stone masons in Latvia. He drew on this knowledge and strength to cut and move these blocks.
Ed had lived in Canada, California, and Texas. Then he developed a touch of tuberculosis and decided to move to a better climate to help his condition. Ed moved to Florida in 1918. Ed remained in Florida City until about 1936. At that time, someone planned to build a subdivision near him. Being a private person, he decided to move. He came to Homestead and bought 10 acres of land in 1936. Ed spent the next three years moving the Coral Castle structures 10-miles to Homestead, Florida from Florida City.
How did Ed move all these carvings a distance of 10 miles? Ed had the chassis of an old Republic truck on which he laid two rails. He had a friend with a tractor move the loaded trailer from Florida City to Homestead. Ed lived a very simple life, he did not own a car. Instead, Ed would ride his bicycle 3.5 miles into town for food and supplies on a regular basis.
Many people have seen the coral carvings being moved along the Dixie Highway, but no one has actually ever seen Ed loading or unloading the trailer. Ed did much of his work at night by lantern light The Coral Castle has numerous lookouts along the Castle walls that were designed to help protect his privacy.
The castle’s walls and gates prove his private nature. In 1940, after the carvings were in place, Ed finished erecting the walls. The coral Walls approximately weigh 125 pounds per cubic foot. Each section of wall is 8 feet tall, 4 feet wide, 3 foot thick, and weighs more than 58 tons!
If anyone ever questioned Ed about how he moved the blocks of coral, Ed would only reply that he understood the laws of weight and leverage well. He even built an AC Current generator! This all from a man with only a fourth grade education. His incredible feats truly need to be witnessed in person in order to be appreciated . There is no record of anyone observing Ed carving in Florida City or in Homestead. He has baffled engineers and scientists! People have compared Ed’s secret method of construction to Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids.
The only written records Ed left to posterity are five pamphlets that he wrote. “ A Book in Every Home” which contains Ed’s thoughts on 3 subjects. “Sweet Sixteen, Domestic, and Political Views.” He wrote 3 pamphlets on “Magnetic Current”. His “Mineral, Vegetable and Animal Life” contains his beliefs on life’s cycle. These pamphlets are available only in our gift shop.
In December 1951 Ed became ill. He put a sign on the door of his Castle saying “Going to the Hospital”. He took a bus to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Three days later he died in his sleep at the age of 64.
After his death, a nephew living in Michigan, inherited the Castle. In 1953, shortly before his death, the nephew sold the Castle to a family from Illinois. During the take-over, a box of Ed’s personal effects was found. It contained a set of instructions that led to the discovery of 35- $100 bills, Ed’s life savings. Ed made this money from giving tours for ten cents and twenty-five cents. He also made money from the sale of his pamphlets and the sale of the land where U.S. Highway 1 passes the Castle.
Edward Leedskalnin’s life achievement, The Coral Castle, an undying testimony of his great love for Agnes Scuffs took him from 1923-1951 to build. The only other tribute that can compare to the Coral Castle is the Taj Mahal. It was built for the lost love of a king. Over twenty years and several thousand slaves built the Taj Mahal, a monument to the King’s wife.
In Ed’s case, he labored intensely for twenty eight years working on this astonishing masterpiece. A common man built the Coral Castle whereas the Taj Mahal was built by a King. Ed was a common man who touched the lives of all who met him in an uncommon way. This humble yet unique man persevered in order to pay tribute to love. His physical tribute will astonish all that visit the Coral Castle.
Forever carved in stone, the Coral Castle is a timeless beauty that defines Ed’s undying Love for his “Sweet Sixteen”. Ed’s stone tribute to Agnes Scuffs, carved by his own two hands will forever inspire romance in all those that choose to visit the monumental Coral Castle.