MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS HISTORIC STATE PARK
Visitors to this Florida homestead can walk back in time to 1930s farm life. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived and worked in the tiny community of Cross Creek. Her cracker style home and farm, where she lived for 25 years and wrote her Pulitzer prize-winning novel The Yearling, has been restored and is preserved as it was when she lived here.
Marjorie Rawlings was honored as a First Floridian by Governor Crist in March of 2009. The United States Postal Service released a commemorative stamp in 2008 honoring Marjorie and the literary arts. In 2007 the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings house and farm yard was designated as a National Historic Landmark. The National Historic Landmark designation is the highest such recognition accorded by our nation to historic properties determined to be of exceptional value in representing or illustrating an important theme, event or person in the history of the nation.
Visitors may tour the house with a ranger Thursdays through Sundays, October through July (except for Christmas and Thanksgiving) at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 p.m. Tours at the park begin at the barn, walk through the farmyard and then through the historic house.
The farmyard, grove, and nature trails are open 9:00 a.m.to 5:00 p.m. daily, throughout the year.
Picnic facilities are located in the adjacent county park. Located in Cross Creek off County Road 325.
The park is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
So Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings began the story of her life in this rural Florida community. Coming to Cross Creek in 1928 with her husband Charles Rawlings, she settled into her new life in this "half-wide, backwoods country," growing oranges, cooking on a wood-burning stove, writing down her impressions of the land and her Cracker neighbors. Immediately, she felt an affinity for the place and made a lifelong commitment to it: "When I came to the Creek, I knew the old grove and the farmhouse at once as home."
She sat most often on the wide veranda at her typewriter, writing the books that would endear her to the world and capture forever the beauty of Florida and the spirit of its people. The Yearling, an American classic and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is the story of young Jody Baxter?s coming of age in the big scrub country which is now the Ocala National Forest. Cross Creek is a chronicle of her life at the Creek, a "love story," she called it, where she reveals her favorite haunts, marvels at the passing of the seasons, introduces the reader to her friends and neighbors and shares with the whole world her love of Florida. Here, the land and its people roused her, and her writings blossomed into works that have placed her among the best known names in American literature.
Her farmhouse "sat snugly then as now under the tall old orange trees, and had a simple grace of line, low rambling, and one-storied." Three separate structures connected by a bathroom, screen porches, open verandas, comprise the eight-room house built of cypress and heart pine. The house has withstood the "wind and rain and harsh sun and encroaching jungle" for nearly 100 years. The Cracker-style architecture is well-suited for the hot Florida climate and includes open porches, tall ceilings and plenty of windows and screened doors to take advantage of the cool breezes. In the winter, four fireplaces and the wood-burning stove took the chill off the rooms.
Outside, the citrus grove of orange, grapefruit and tangerine trees surrounded the house. In the magic of the grove, she found her greatest pleasure: "Enchantment lies in different things for each of us. For me, it is in this: to step out of the bright sunlight into the shade of oranges trees; to walk under the arched canopy of their jadelike leaves; to see the long aisles of lichened trunks stretch ahead in a geometric rhythm; to feel the mystery of a seclusion that yet has shafts of light striking through it. This is the essence of an ancient and secret magic." In her groves, Marjorie Rawlings found peace and inspiration.
Her book Cross Creek ends with these words: "It seems to me that the earth may be borrowed but not bought. It may be used but not owned. It gives itself in response to love and tending, offers its seasonal flowering and fruiting. But we are tenants and not possessors, lovers and not masters. Cross Creek belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time."
Divorced from Charles Rawlings in 1933, Marjorie Rawlings stayed on at the Creek alone through the Great Depression and into more prosperous times. In 1941, she married Norton Baskin and divided her time between their St. Augustine home and her Cross Creek retreat where she continued to write up until her death in 1953 at the age of 57.