Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park
If you ever find yourself in or near Gainesville and you enjoy visiting historic sites, especially those with literary connections, you may enjoy spending an hour or two at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings home and farm in Cross Creek.

Mrs. Rawlings moved to the farm in 1928 with her first husband, Charles Rawlings, with plans to raise and market citrus crops. She wanted to live on the land and have a place where she was inspired to write. Both she and her husband had backgrounds in journalism, but writing did not come easy for her. She was not a typical farm wife and spent nine to ten hours a day working on her stories. Her writing focused on the land around her and the people who inhabited it.

You may visit the farm and outbuildings without taking a tour of the house, but it is well worth the time and nominal fee of $3 per adult to do so. Tours are led by volunteers who are knowledgeable about both the property and the life of Mrs. Rawlings. The tours last about an hour. You will be led throughout the cracker farm house that still contains the furnishings that were there when the Rawlings lived in it. You will also hear many anecdotes about Mr. and Mrs. Rawlings and the guests that visited them.

The first room you will enter is the porch where Mrs. Rawlings spent her time writing. It contains the table where she sat and punched the keys on the typewriter that is still in place next to an ashtray and package of cigarettes. She chain-smoked as she wrote. From there you will be led through the living room with its bookshelves filled with books, the dining room, and the kitchen. Mrs. Rawlings was an excellent cook and loved to entertain guests. She grew many of her own vegetables and herbs on the farm. You will also be taken through the bedrooms and the baths she had built because she so disliked the outhouse that came with the original house.

For a while in the 1930s she lived with a cracker family near Ocala to study their way of life. This visit became the basis for her 1938 novel The Yearling, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1939. By this time she was divorced from Charles Rawlings. In 1942 she published Cross Creek, an autobiographical book about life on the Florida frontier and about her neighbors there. These are probably her two most famous works. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1953.

The park is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. House tours are available from October through July (except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day) on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 and 11 a.m. and at 1, 2, 3, and 4 p.m. The charge to tour the house is $3.00 per adult; $2.00 for children, ages 6 to 12; children ages 5 and under are free. Picnic facilities, a boat ramp to Orange Lake, and a playground are located in the adjacent county park. Parking fee is $3 per vehicle.

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