'FRIENDS OF LIBRARIES U.S.A.
LITERARY LANDMARKS REGISTER
Beloved home of
MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS
FROM 1928 TO 1953
Designated by the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Society and the Florida Center for the Book
on the occasion of her 100th birthday.'
Marjorie Kinnan (1896 –1953) was born in Washington D. C., graduated from the University of Wisconsin in English in 1918, married Charles Rawlings the following year, and moved to this 72-acre property in Cross Creek near Hawthorne in 1928. This is now the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, where virtually all of the furniture in her house is authentic.
At the entrance to the park are two photos of MKR in Cross Creek.
'"IT IS NECESSARY TO LEAVE THE IMPERSONAL HIGHWAY, TO STEP INSIDE THE RUSTY GATE AND CLOSE IT BEHIND. ONE IS NOW INSIDE THE ORANGE GROVE, OUT OF ONE WORLD AND IN THE MYSTERIOUS HEART OF ANOTHER. AND AFTER LONG YEARS OF SPIRITUAL HOMELESSNESS, OF NOSTALGIA, HERE IS THAT MYSTIC LOVELINESS OF CHILDHOOD AGAIN. HERE IS HOME."
MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS
CROSS CREEK, 1942'
In the property is a citrus grove, of which this is one of the orange trees.
Spanish moss dangles all over.
A replica of the original barn on the same site.
And a replica tenant house.
One of the chicken pens.
And a duck pen enclosing a small pond.
I've no idea what the bell has to do with the wood-cutting area (if is at all related).
The pump house.
The garden at the back of the house.
And at the side of the house is a replica of Rawling's Oldsmobile. She didn't learn to drive until she was in her early thirties, and was notoriously bad: she had several prangs, but was unhurt.
The house itself was in Rawling's name, which was financially convenient for her when she and Charles divorced in 1933, the year she published her first novel South Moon Under. This was originally three properties, but only one when they came here.
This is where she wrote her books, such as The Yearling and Cross Creek, and the typewriter belonged to her.
The bed where MKR rested from her work (right next to her car).
The living room, and in the center of the photo the cupboard which was the hideaway where she stashed her moonshine.
Opposite the liquor hold, shelves of books.
A posthumous bust of MKR by Lee Burnham.
The bed in the guestroom.
MKR's own bedroom – complete with original quilt – which she later shared with her second husband Norton Baskin.
The bathroom next to the bedroom.
The table in the dining room is not the original.
Finally, the outhouse, which directly faced the dining room. Our guide said that MKR always sat in the dining room chair directly opposite when entertaining guests so as to avoid them staring straight at it. I've unaware of the truth of this tale, although I can't imagine her ever choosing to be concerned about Wallace Steven's sensibilities, although that's a very different story.
The park claims that this is 'the real Florida', and yes, I can't help thinking that this is light years away from the unfortunate tackiness of parts of Key West, or the beach areas of Florida. Very agreeable.