Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings loved her Florida Farm. Here she did most of her best writing. Many of you are familiar with her stories. She won the Pulitzer for her novel The Yearling. Her story of living and working the farm is told in Cross Creek, a memoir. Her short stories touch readers emotions and paint lively pictures of the life of the local crackers in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Cross Creek Cookery is filled with recipes she and her housekeeper prepared in the small kitchen on the farm.
This time of year the grounds of the house are filled with the scent of orange blossoms and the visitor is at once transported to old Florida. The orange trees, the garden, the chickens, the palms and greenery that surround the home suggest the spirit of this writer.
The place speaks to me of Marjorie’s happiness whether I am touring the house, investigation the barn, admiring the flowers on the tenant house porch or meandering the nearby trails and grounds.
She loved it there surrounded by the orange trees. The hens and roosters chortle and crow. Otherwise the place is mostly quiet.
Marjorie sat at her typewriter and wrote on the front porch, a most inviting spot.
The farmstead is located between Orange Lake and Lochloosa Lake. These are connected by Cross Creek. On a good day breezes flow from the lakes through the hammock, the orange groves and into the house .
The layout of the house, including portions built at a later date by Marjorie to accommodate such guests as poet Robert Frost, authors Margaret Mitchell and Thornton Wilder, features small rooms and connecting verandas, hallways, porches. It is a cozy place, inviting and comforting.
The house is constructed of heart pine and much of it is board and batten siding, painted white. In past years heart pine was the center of old growth pines, predominately longleaf pine. The wood was dark colored, decay resistant and more stable than yellow pine.
The dining room and kitchen with pantry are a separate building connected to the house with a breezeway or dogtrot and many windows to facilitate ventilation.
In this place one hears Marjorie Rawlins’ whispers and shouts. One can discover a bit of the life she knew and recreated so vividly in her writings. For Ms. Rawlins it was an enchanting place and with its museum quality restoration it holds magic for many who visit there.
The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park is located at 18700 S. County Road 325, Cross Creek, Fl 32640. You can learn more at FloridaStateParks.org