This white, wood-frame farmhouse and its surrounding property off State Route 325 in Cross Creek, Florida, looks frozen in time. The house looks the same as it did during the 1930s when it was the home of American author and writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Although born and raised in Washington, D.C., and educated in Wisconsin, Rawlings is considered one of Florida’s most beloved writers.
In November 1928, Rawlings and her first husband Charles, purchased the farmhouse and surrounding 74-acre citrus farm in rural Florida to grow oranges and write. Rawlings also hoped the move would help her faltering marriage. Farming proved far more difficult than anticipated and the marriage ended in 1933. However, Rawlings was captivated by rural Florida and drew endless inspiration from the land and its people. It was here that she found her literary voice as a southern writer.
Rawlings’s clapboard farmhouse is a cracker-style house, often found in the state’s rural areas. The house has a breezeway, covered porches, raised floors, and high windows intended to cool occupants living in the sweltering southern climate before air conditioning.
Rawlings lived in the Cross Creek house from 1928 to 1942. Her fascinating neighbors and extraordinary experiences in the “Big Scrub” appear throughout her novels and short stories. She wrote eight books there, including The Yearling, a novel about a boy and his pet deer, for which she received the Pulitzer Prize in 1939. In 1946, the book became a major motion picture starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman. Filmed in and around Cross Creek, it was one of the first movies shot on location.
The farmhouse is decorated and maintained in the same manner it was when Rawlings called it home. In fact, many of the furnishings were hers. On the screened porch is a handmade cypress table and chairs with deer hide seats where Rawlings sat and wrote. Parked next to the house is a 1940 yellow Packard. The guest room contains the hand-carved bed Peck slept on when he came to visit.
Rawlings left the Cross Creek house and land to the University of Florida upon her death in 1953. The property is now a Florida State Park and the house a National Historic Landmark.
Know Before You Go
The park is open every day and the farmhouse's interior guided tours are available Thursday through Sunday.