St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church

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St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church
St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church is a medieval Spanish monastery cloister which was built in the town of Sacramenia in Segovia, Spain, in the 12th century but dismantled in the 20th century and shipped to New York in the United States. It was eventually reassembled in North Miami Beach, Florida, where it is now an Episcopal church and tourist attraction. It is one of the oldest buildings in the Western Hemisphere.

History to 1925
The Cistercian monastery, dedicated to Santa Maria Real, was constructed during the years 1133-1141. Its Romanesque abbey church remains one of the monuments of Sacramenia. Originally, it was named "Monastery of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels", but was renamed to honor Bernard of Clairvaux upon his canonization. Use of the building as a Cistercian monastery lasted for almost 700 years until it was seized and sold off to be used as a granary and a stable during a period of social unrest in the 1830's.

History 1925-1964
The monastery's cloisters and its outbuildings were purchased by William Randolph Hearst in 1925. In order to be transported to the USA, the structures were carefully dismantled with each piece being numbered and packaged in wooden crates lined with hay. The total shipment comprised 11,000 crates. However, some of the information contained in this labeling was lost when the shipment was quarantined in the USA because of a break-out of hoof and mouth disease in Segovia. During the quarantine, the crates were opened and the hay filling was burned as a measure to prevent the spread of the disease. Afterwards, the content of the crates was not replaced correctly. William Randolph Hearst was ultimately unable to pursue his plan of rebuilding the monastery because of financial difficulties and the pieces were stored in a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York until they were purchased in 1952 by Raymond Moss and William Edgemon, who eventually reassembled them at the site of a small plant nursery north of Miami, where the buildings became a tourist attraction known as the Ancient Spanish Monastery. Reassembling the buildings took 19 months and cost almost 1.5 million dollars. Some of the stones remained unused in the process.

History 1964-date
The property was purchased by Bishop Henry I. Louttit in 1964 for the Episcopal Diocese of South Florida, which later was split into the Dioceses of Central, Southeast and Southwest Florida. Financial difficulties forced the three dioceses to sell the monastery, it was purchased by Colonel Robert Pentland, Jr., who gave it to the Episcopal parish of St. Bernard de Clairvaux.

The address of St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church is 16711 West Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach, Florida 33160, USA.