The O’Reilly House is the oldest house on the oldest street in the oldest part of the oldest city in the United States. Irish Priest Miguel (Michael) O’Reilly supervised the construction of St. Augustine’s beautiful Cathedral from 1793 to its completion and consecration in 1797. He and fellow Irishmen were the Spanish colony’s principal vicars in the Second Spanish Period. O’Reilly was born in Ireland where the English were suppressing the Catholic faith. He was trained for the priesthood in Spain and sent to St. Augustine in 1777 to minister to the Menorcans. He became the chaplain of the Hibernian Regiment and “vicario” of the entire Colony. Here he was the teacher of Felix Varela, the Cuban writer and hero who is now up for Sainthood.
The house was built around 1691 and was given to the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1866. Father Miguel O’Reilly wanted his house used for education. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Le Puy, France arrived in St. Augustine at the request of Bishop Verot to bring education to newly emancipated slaves. November 1866 witnessed the opening of the O’Reilly House as the first school for African American boys in St. Augustine.
The O’Reilly House, located at 32 Aviles Street, has been under the care and ownership of the Sisters of St. Joseph since 1866. The unique history of the house and its usage is such an important part of the history of St. Augustine that the Sisters opened it for a museum in 2002.
The house is operated and maintained by the Sisters. They have a wonderful group of volunteers that assist the Sisters in sharing the faith and the good works of the Congregation.