A History of Caring
Gabriel House of Care opened its doors in April 2011. However, the history of Gabriel House goes back more than a decade to 1996, when the parent organization of Gabriel House, St. Andrew’s Lighthouse, Inc., was established as an outreach mission of St. Andrew's Lutheran Church by the Sea in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
The original four bedroom house, located on the property of St. Andrew's Lutheran Church by the Sea, was built around 1915 as a private residence in the Historic Riverside District of Jacksonville. Years later, the house was moved by waterway to Beach Blvd. in Jacksonville Beach. In the 1950’s, the property became home to St. Andrew’s Church.
Over the years, the house served as auxiliary meeting rooms and storage for the main church but eventually fell into serious disrepair. In 1996, the church considered demolishing the house, but a parishioner suggested it could be put to use as temporary lodging for families who were coming to Jacksonville for medical treatment. Church members overwhelmingly supported the idea and the vision of a “home away from home” began to take root and grow.
St. Andrew’s Lighthouse, Inc. was filed as a nonprofit organization in April, 1996, and became a member of the National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses (NAHHH) in 2000.
The original house underwent extensive renovation and welcomed its first guests in June 2000. Over the next ten years, St. Andrew’s partnered with many medical facilities in Jacksonville to provide shelter and support to patients and families. The use of an additional residence was donated in 2008. This increased the number of guest rooms from four to six. During this time, St. Andrew’s developed an especially close relationship with Mayo Clinic staff, physicians and patients.
The need for expanded lodging opportunities was felt by everyone. In 2008, St. Andrew’s Lighthouse, Inc. and Mayo Clinic forged a partnership to address the need. Mayo Clinic proposed a plan to construct a thirty-bedroom house to serve transplant and cancer patients. With approval by the Boards of Directors of both organizations, the partnership to open Gabriel House of Care began.
Jorge and Leslie Bacardi provided the lead gift that energized the capital campaign to build Gabriel House of Care. The Bacardi’s also made a major gift to the St. Andrew’s Lighthouse, Inc. Campaign for Gabriel House.