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Turnbull Ruins in New Smyrna Beach | Unexplained Florida Mysteries

Historical Turnbull Ruins in New Smyrna Beach prove to be one of the strangest unexplained Florida mysteries. This fascinating place to visit in Florida cannot be found in historical records, and we have no idea why it was built or what it was supposed to be!

These Turnbull Ruins in New Smyrna Beach offers a glimpse into the unexplained Florida mysteries of time. There are many suggestions or theories, and some people think they "know" what it was. But most historians still scratch their head, unable to explain this mysterious structure.

Take your kids to view this historical landmark that is nothing short of awesome. The Turnbull Ruins in New Smyrna Beach is easy to find, and right in the middle of town. You will be glad you stopped by, because your kids can even try to figure out unexplained Florida mysteries. This strange and eerie historical place will be a fun and educational thing to do on your Florida vacation.

210 Sams Ave.
New Smyrna Beach, FL  32168

Turnbull Ruins
Turnbull Ruins in New Smyrna Beach

One of Florida’s biggest mysteries is the ruins of an ancient building located in New Smyrna’s Old Fort Park. The ruins are constructed of coquina block, yet no evidence has been found to explain where the coquina came from or how it got there. Within the ruins, there are areas that appear to have been built for weapons placement, much like an old Spanish fort. But there was never a Spanish settlement in New Smyrna. So … what was this structure, and who built it?

In 1768, Dr. Andrew Turnbull recruited 1,400 British colonists to establish a settlement in Florida. After a 3 month overseas journey, he landed in what is now called New Smyrna Beach. Maps and records from that time period do not mention the existence of a fort. We know that Dr. Turnbull tried to use the colonists to build a very large stone mansion, but by 1778, the colonists revolted and fled the area. Are these ruins the foundation of Turnbull’s failed mansion? Historians say no. They believe he found the ruins and tried to build his mansion on top of them.

In 1783, Dr. Andrew Hull re-established the settlement of New Smyrna. In his writings, he talks about hiring stone masons to build a two story building on a pre-existing foundation. Then in 1854, John D. Sheldon built a forty room hotel on the site of the ruins which was destroyed during the Civil War.

Today, people report seeing a man standing guard atop the ruins, dressed in the uniform of a Spanish soldier from the 16th century. It seems he is looking towards the horizon, perhaps for a ship?

Unexplained Florida Mysteries
Turnbull Ruins in New Smyrna Beach
The Unexplained Turnbull Ruins
Ruins of fort in New Smyrna
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This article was contributed by in August 2012 and updated in January 2015. It has been viewed 32,831 times.

  1. In college, I recall a course “Florida Heritage”. I remember a discussion of Dr. Turnbull’s ventures in St. Augustine. Did he not take Minorcans from their island as slaves?

  2. Janet, you bring up a good point. Our original source material referred to them “colonists”. We are going to revisit this article soon, and see if we can dig up any details about the Minorcan slaves. If you come across any links that go into this, feel free to share them.

  3. I am so bummed. I had visited New Smyrna for the first time last week. I was in touch with the historical section, but there was no mention of this site. I would have toured if I had known. I am going back again to see this.

  4. There really is not a mystery of what this is. The old Spanish fort story started in the early 1900’s when the New Smyrna city fathers were trying to beat out St. Augustine for the designation of oldest city. It did not work. The archaeological digs date this structure to the time of Turnbull. It is know from his letters and observation of visitors at the time that Turnbull was building a large manor house, or castle as they called it, for William Duncan who was going to retire there from England. Surveys and eye witness depositions from the early 1800’s call it “Turnbull’s Palace” or “Turnbull’s House”. In fact it is an exact duplicate of the foundation of the Earl of Dumfries house which is right down the road from where Turnbull was born in England. All of this is well documented in the State of Florida master file for the site. The coquina most probably came from the nearby canal cut by Turnbull. The wedge shaped ports that people mistake for gun ports are the window ports for the basement. The structure has had several major repairs and restorations since original. I will admit that Spanish fort has a lot more appeal for the tourist than some English guys basement!

  5. The New Smyrna Beach Museum just a block away on Sams Avenue has a lot of information on the early settlement of the area. I highly recommend asking to see the video on the Turnbull ruins. It’s a really interesting story and worth taking the time to see it.

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