26 March 2015

Zora Neale Hurston in Fort Pierce, Florida

The Zora Neale Hurston Branch Library in Fort Pierce, which has a large collection of audio-visual resources on Hurston. At the time of writing, it is only open three days a week.

The Zora Neale Hurston Dust Tracks Heritage Trail takes in eight locations, although for a number of reasons I only visited the first four, but these include by far the most important: the house in which she lived for a short time, and her grave. The places I didn't see are the Fort Pierce Chronicle headquarters, where editor C. E. Bolen persuaded Hurston to come and write a column for his paper; Means Court School, the first public school (in the American sense) in Fort Pierce for African American kids; Peek Funeral Chapel, where memorial services were given for Hurston on 28 January 1960; and Backus Studio, where Friday evenings she listened to jam sessions at painter A. E. 'Bean' Backus's studio.

The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, along with other groups, has given a large number of Hurston-related works to the library.

Lincoln Park Academy, Avenue I.

Hurston briefly taught English here in 1958. At the time, it was segregated.  

Hurston's home on Avenue L.

The home was owned by the physician Dr. Clem C. Benton, a friend of the family who allowed Hurston to live rent-free for nearly two years from early 1958 to late 1959, when she was close to her death January 1960. The house has been slightly moved from its original location.

This was a bonus for me because I was unaware of the existence of Liccione's memorial  – which stands right at the entrance to the Garden of Heavenly Rest Cemetery at 17th Street and Avenue S – before my visit. It is very impressive.


1901* –––1960

This was originally a segregated cemetery, and Zora Neale Hurston was buried in an unmarked grave. Alice Walker, trying to retrace Hurston's tracks, 'discovered' it in the early 1970s.

* Hurston's date of birth is ten years out – she was born in 1891.

My other posts on Zora Neale Hurston:

Zora Neale Hurston: Jonah's Gourd Vine
Zora Neale Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God


Patrick Murtha said...

Great material! Have you read Valerie Boyd's biography of Hurston, "Wrapped in Rainbows"? It is among the best literary biographies I have ever read.

Dr Tony Shaw said...

Many thanks for this comment, and no, I've not read Boyd's book, although following your recommendation I certainly shall!