Coconut Grove Pioneer Kirk Munroe

Portrait of Kirk Munroe

Figure 1: Portrait of Kirk Munroe

Explorer, author and adventurer are three words to describe Coconut Grove pioneer Kirk Munroe. He traveled the world and wrote stories based on his experiences. He arrived and settled in Coconut Grove ten years prior to Miami incorporating as a city.

Munroe was born in Prairie-du-Chien, Wisconsin in 1850. His adventures began at a young age when he embarked on a walking tour across the continent. His career included roles as a writer, editor and author of adventure books for boys.

While he routinely traveled, Kirk always enjoyed returning to his home in Coconut Grove, a property he named “Scrububs”. He moved to the Grove in 1886. Along with Ralph Munroe, he was one of the founders of the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club founded in 1887 to celebrate Washington’s birthday. Although Kirk Munroe’s obituary in the Miami News claimed that he and Ralph were cousins, it has always been believed that there were no family ties between the two men.

He also was the founder of the Coconut Grove Library. According to Kirk, the library was the first in the state of Florida to own its building. The building was erected on land donated by his Ralph Munroe.

Kirk Munroe is mostly remembered for his forty books that were based on his adventures traveling the world. Among the books were “Through Swamp and Glade” and “Flamingo Feather”. Both novels were based on his experiences with the Seminole Indians in Florida.

Coconut Grove residents in 1886

Figure 2: Coconut Grove residents in 1886

He was married twice. His first wife was Mary Barr, daughter of author Amelia Barr. Mary passed away in 1922. His second wife was Mabel Sterns Noble, who he married on April 2, 1924.

Kirk Munroe passed away on June 16, 1930 at a Florida sanitarium in Orlando. His funeral service was held at the Plymouth Congregational Church. Reverend J.D. Kuykendall lauded Munroe as an “adventurer in the highways and byways of life.” His adventure to the wilderness of Coconut Grove in 1886 certainly made it a better and more interesting community.

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  • Miami News: “Local Library was the First in South Florida”, March 3, 1923.
  • Miami News: “Kirk Munroe’s Death Removes Miami Pioneer”, July 17, 1930.
  • Miami Herald: “Death Takes Kirk Munroe in Orlando”, July 17, 1930.
  • Miami News: “Many Pay Tribute to Kirk Munroe”, July 20, 1930.
  • Book: “The Commodore’s Story” by Ralph Munroe.


  • Cover: Coconut Grove residents in 1886. Courtesy of Florida Memory.
  • Figure 1: Portrait of Kirk Munroe. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
  • Figure 2: Coconut Grove residents in 1886. Courtesy of Florida Memory.