The castle has moved from its original location in Florida City and changed names but the enigma that surrounds its construction still baffles the minds of all who visit. The castle was constructed in 1919 by Edward Leedskalnin and originally named “Rock Gate Park”. Leedskalnin was born in Stameriena parish, Latvia; not wealthy with only a fourth grade education. At the age of 26 he was engaged to be married to a women 10 years his junior. When his betrothed refered to as “Sweet sixteen” left him on the eve of their wedding Leedskalnin moved to North America and eventually ended up in Florida after contracting tuberculosis, seeking a warmer climate more suited to his condition.
Leedskalnin purchased a small plot of land in Florida City and began to build what some believe impossible, “Rock Gate Park” dedicated to the girl who left him. Standing only 5 feet tall and weighing no more than 100 lbs, Leedskalnin quarried and sculpted over 1,100 short tons of coral during the next 20 years for his castle. Rumors and records indicate he only worked on the construction at night, with no assistance and no one was ever allowed to see him work. The entry gate to the property is a feat of construction genius with a sense of balance that allows one to open it with a single finger although it is a solid slab of coral (weighing over 9 tons).
Mythical commentary surrounding the construction is based on Leedskalnin’s own comments with regard to the construction, ’I know the secrets of the pyramids’ or ‘its magic‘. Although most information refers to his personality as private, he eventually opened the property up to visitors who paid 10 cents a person for entry. He is said to have been polite but evasive with all questions regarding his construction of the castle. Then in the 1930’s Leedskalnin decided to single handedly move the entire castle to a 10 acre piece of land in Homestead, FL which is a 4.5 hour drive from Tampa Bay.
For all his dedication, Leedskalnin’s lost love never returned to him and he passed at a local Miami hospital in 1951 at the age of 64. All these years later and the answers to his process and the secrets behind “Coral Castle” construction have yet to be discovered.
Special note: Billy Idol references Leedskalnin’s lost love and Coral Castle in his song Sweet Sixteen, lyrics include: ‘Someone’s built a candy castle for my sweet sixteen/Someone’s built a candy house to house her in.’ Brooklyn band Pinataland recorded a song entitled, ‘Latvian Bride’ in their 2003 album Songs for the Forgotten Future Vol. 1.