The O’Reilly House is located in the oldest section of St. Augustine and even though the house is over 300 years old, Spanish settlers first inhabited this part of St. Augustine more than 100 years before this house was built. It is believed that the house was built on the ruins of a previous dwelling possibly built in the late 1500s. At various times, archeological digs have been conducted on the property owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph, which includes the Motherhouse and extends west to Cordova Street and south to Bridge Street. This room contains many of the treasures that have been unearthed during those excavations.

Potsherds, bottles, medals, and other various objects are located in a display in the center of the room as well as in a case along the north wall. Even in their present state you can detect the craftsmanship required to make these objects.

Among the other valuable artifacts is an 1889 printing press that the Sisters used to produce a variety of publications. The printing press is believed to be the only one of its kind still in existence in the United States. Along the south wall is an 1895 pump organ made by the Gem Organ Co., in Washington, D.C., that is still functional. This wonderful musical instrument and most of the furnishings in the house are from the Victorian period.

It is speculated that originally, in the early 1700s, this room would have led to an area where livestock may have been penned. Later, during Fr. O’Reilly’s time, the entire first floor of the house would have been public areas of the rectory. By the time the Sisters occupied the house in the mid-19th century, they used the first floor as classrooms.

Among the many archeological treasures found on the property is a brown scapular medal, shown here with other well-preserved items from the First Spanish Period.

Most of the furnishings in the O'Reilly House Museum are from the Victorian Period, so too this 1895 pump organ made in Washington, D.C., which is still functional.

© 2004 Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine, Florida