||The museum, which opened on June 25, 2003, has three main themes: the story of the house, which was constructed circa 1691: the Catholic tradition in St. Augustine, which began on Sept. 8, 1565 and has continued unbroken to this day, earning the parish of the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine the title, “the first parish;” and the Sisters of St. Joseph who have been the guardians of the O’Reilly House and educators in St. Augustine since their arrive in 1866.
The structure, now known as the O’Reilly House, was built 313 years ago (circa 1691) during the First Spanish Period here in St. Augustine. And to put the age of the house in perspective, only the fort, Castillo de San Marcos built of the same tabby and coquina, and around the same time period is older.
Not only does the house have significant historic value, it is truly a sacred space. Shortly after Father Miguel O’Reilly, an Irish priest in the service of the Spanish crown, bought the property in 1785 at the beginning of the Second Spanish Period, it became the parish rectory. And it was in this house, from 1794 to 1802, that Father O’Reilly privately taught a student who would go on to become a brilliant educator, author, defender of human and civil rights, and, most notably, a humble priest, Father Felix Varela. Father Varela, whose cause for sainthood is now before the Holy Father in Rome, is revered as much for his tireless work on behalf of the Irish immigrants in 19th-century New York City as for his fight for Cuban independence.
For more information about the museum and the Sisters of St. Joseph, visit http://www.oreillyhouse.org.
32 Aviles Street
St. Augustine, FL 32085
Wednesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Free, donations welcomed