Parks are now
toll free, at
MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS STATE
Cross Creek is a bend in a country road, by land, and the flowing of Lochloosa
Lake into Orange Lake, by water. We are four miles west of the small village
of Island Grove, nine miles east of a turpentine still, and on the other
sides we do not count distance at all, for the two lakes and the broad marshes
"create an infinite space between us and the horizon."
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 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
The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site has been officially listed
on the National Register of Historic Sites since 1970. It is a microcosm
of Florida farmland, marshland and succeeding hammock and represents a history,
culture and architecture that typifies a rural Florida that has all but
vanished. Eight acres of the historic site have been managed by DEP's Division
of Recreation and parks since 1970. The remaining 60 acres of the original
homestead are managed by Alachua County Parks and the University of Florida
The house is open only to public tours. Tours are given Thursday through
Sunday at 10 am, 11 am, and each hour from 1 pm to 4 pm.
Children (6-12)- $2
Children (5 and under)- free.
Each tour is limited to 10 people, and a waiting time is not unusual. Tours
are not offered August and September as we work on preservation projects.
The yard , grove, and nature trails remain open through-out the year. School
groups and those interested in arranging group tour should call or rate
for further information.
Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site is located in Cross Creek, off S.R.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site
Route 3, Box 92
Hawthorne, FL 32640
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