Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan, House and Farm Yard
The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House and Farm Yard at Cross Creek, Florida, was the home of the author of the same name from 1928 until 1942. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was born August 8, 1896, in Washington, D.C., where her father was an attorney for the U.S. Patent Office. After high school, Marjorie entered the University of Wisconsin, where she majored in English. Following graduation in 1918, she went to New York and obtained an editorial position with the National Board of the YWCA. In May 1919, Marjorie married Charles Rawlings, a classmate at the University of Wisconsin and a co-worker on the college literary magazine. Eventually both became newspaper reporters, first in Louisville, Kentucky, and then in Rochester, New York. Marjorie wrote feature articles for the Sunday supplement and became a syndicated poet. Wishing to find solitude to pursue her writing and in hopes of solving marital problems, in November 1928 they bought a 74-acre citrus farm near Island Grove, Florida, in the tiny community of Cross Creek. Rawlings’ two brothers, who had settled in Island Grove some time before, located the property for the couple and, in the beginning, helped with the farming. The Rawlings called their new home “Los Hermanos” (The Brothers). Marjorie became quickly enamored with the land and local people and began to write about them. Her descriptive talent allowed her to create extraordinary vivid portrayals of rural Florida and its people. She sold her first Florida sketch---Cracker Childings---to Scribner’s magazine in March 1930. Her first successful Florida novel, South Moon Under, appeared in 1933. In the same year her marriage with Charles Rawlings ended in divorce.
In the years that immediately followed at Cross creek, Marjorie reached the peak of her literary career. In August 1935, Scribner’s published her second novel, Golden Apples, a story of an Englishman exiled in Florida who learned to live in harmony with the land and his rural neighbors. In March 1938, The Yearling appeared, and she became a national celebrity. A story of childhood innocence set in the Florida scrub country; it brought Marjorie moderate wealth and greater critical acclaim. The novel won for her the Pulitzer Prize in 1939, and also earned her election to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. In October 1941, Marjorie married again, this time to Norton Baskin, a hotel owner and long-time friend. The second marriage marked the end of her continuous residence at Cross Creek and also of her most important and productive literary period. The Baskins’ new home was a penthouse atop the Castle Warden Hotel in St. Augustine, but they also had a cottage at Crescent Beach, about 10 miles south of the city. Marjorie enlarged this structure to include a study. In March 1942, Scribner’s published Cross Creek, which tells the story of Marjorie’s life in Florida in terms of the people and places she came to know and love. This book sold well and enhanced the author’s literary reputation. Most critics placed it with The Yearling as the best of her work. Marjorie struck up friendships with fellow writers Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, and William Faulkner. She was also involved in the Civil Rights movement.
In July, 1947, the Baskins bought an old farm outside Van Hornesville, New York, where Marjorie spent the next six summers. During other seasons she worked at her Crescent Beach cottage and occasionally at Cross Creek. At the time of her death from a cerebral hemorrhage, on December 14, 1953, she was working on a biography of her friend Ellen Glasgow. Marjorie Rawlings is buried at Antioch Cemetery, a few miles from Island Grove.
The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House at Cross Creek is a farmhouse composed of three separate units: the main residence, the kitchen-dining room, and the guest cottage. Of board and batten (a thin narrow strip of lumber used for reinforcing a joint) construction, the white, gable-roofed complex is set on cement blocks. The exact date of the construction of the house is not known; its existence prior to the great freezes of the late 19th century has been established. During her occupancy from 1928 to 1942, Mrs. Rawlings added bathrooms and a garage, widened and screened the east porch, and replaced the metal roofing with cypress shingles.
The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House and Farm Yard is a National Historic Landmark, (full documentation we have on the property.) and the grounds are a Florida State Park. The Park includes the land of the original Rawlings estate, and is named the Majorie Kinnan Rawlins Park. The University of Florida Foundation provides upkeep for both sites.
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