Visit Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park in Cross Creek

By Holly Giles | Florida

front of marjorie kinnan rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park

Cross Creek is home to the historic homestead of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. The homestead has been preserved just as it was when she was living there in the 1930s. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived at Cross Creek for 25 years and wrote many of her award-winning literature pieces while living on the farm.

Florida history is my passion. I am a 4th generation Floridian and love to learn more at each place I visit. I have been reading Marjorie’s work for many years and planning a trip to Cross Creek and her historic state park homestead was a treat. My oldest son Grayson and I took a day trip to Cross Creek and immersed ourselves in this delightful area.

marjorie kinnan rawlings house

Plan your visit to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park

Driving back roads of Florida from our home set the stage for our day. The homestead is just an hour and a half from Orlando. Located at 18700 S. County Road 325 Cross Creek, Fl  32640.  It is National Historic Landmark between Ocala and Gainesville in Alachua County. Visitors are welcome from 9 am to 5 pm daily on the grounds with a $3 per group cash deposit to the honor box at the gate. Guided interior tours are available Thursday to Sunday at the hour beginning at 10 am. Tours are $3 per adult and $2 per child in exact cash, no credit cards are accepted.

Plan your visit accordingly. Marjorie’s homestead is just as it was and air conditioning was not available at that time. The tour is fascinating and worth your time. However, I suggest you dress accordingly to enjoy the experience and the ever-changing Florida weather.

cross creek historic park

Before you visit the Historic State Park Homestead

Before you visit Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s home, reading Cross Creek will set the mood. Her rich descriptive words about life and nature in rural Florida are mesmerizing. Cross Creek is a true story, an autobiography of her life in the community. I am sure there may be embellishments and name changes here and there, but an account of her life no less.

Because this is a rural area I planned a picnic at the Orange Lake County Park. In addition to picnic facilities, there is a playground and boat ramp. The park is located in the same parking area as the historic site. For this visit, I took my oldest son Grayson, who loves Florida history as much as I do. It was a special time to share with him and for us both to recognize items and stories shared by the tour guides.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Author

Marjorie was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author for The Yearling. She also wrote Cross Creek and many other books based on life in Florida during the early 1900s. The Yearling is required reading for high schoolers in Florida. Her Florida farmhouse in Cross Creek is a state park.

Upon her death, Marjorie left her home to the University of Florida to be used as a respite and inspiration for authors to enjoy. The home is now managed by the State of Florida which would be able to take care of the home for the future. The historic site opened to the public as a state park in 1970. Marjorie has left an incredible legacy to future generations of life living in rural Florida.

visit florida state park marjorie kinnan rawlings

Living History Tour at Cross Creek

Literature can be a link to living history and a bridge to exploring wild places right where you live. Spend time dreaming of being in the 1930s and experiencing what day-to-day life was like at the grove. This is a wonderful place to do it. When you walk through the rusty front gate, you will begin your adventure through history.

Marjorie had a way with descriptive words. Her description of the magnolia tree she saw every day outside her kitchen window made me want to see it for myself.  The landscape around the homestead still feels like what I imagine old Florida to be. Taking the tour with an interpretive guide enhances the visit and brings a bygone era back to life.

magnolia tree at marjorie kinnan rawlings house

The Tour Guides dress in period clothing and treat you as a guest in Marjorie’s home. It is apparent that they love to share her life and the history of the area with visitors. In addition, they share information about special items in the home, where Marjorie did most of her writing, and about the now-famous guests that have visited here.

wooden bowl at rawlings homestead

marjorie's typewriter

Connecting books with a historical location is one of my favorite ways to learn. Of course, I also enjoy history now more than when I was younger. Most importantly, I like taking my boys with me, and I hope it helps to instill a love of history and learning more about locations they visit than just attractions.

 

The garden at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s homestead

Volunteers and Friends of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings do a magnificent job of keeping up the grounds in a working farm fashion. The day we visited we stumbled upon a man in overalls tilling up potatoes from the garden. He was also experimenting with deer deterrent devices which he admitted were not period correct, but necessary!

Even though we were heading into the heat of summer there was still a bounty of growth and enough peas for shelling on the front porch. Ducks were splashing around a mud hole and chickens were cackling with delight in their nests. I felt like kicking off my shoes and getting in there myself and enjoying a moment of farm life.

cross creek garden

eggplant growing in Marjorie's garden

The outhouse at Cross Creek

In the book, Cross Creek, the outhouse is talked about in different seasons. The zigzag was painted on the door so it would be hard to see who was using the outhouse when you walked up to it. Then, a rag was draped through a hole in the screen to let others know that it was in use. Of course, these were added after incidents with guests. Can you imagine opening the outhouse door and seeing Hemingway sitting there?

Outhouses are a fascination for many who have never experienced them. So, of course, Grayson had to inspect it for himself. The orange grove right behind it may have helped the aroma. Orange blossoms are the best smelling thing in Florida when they are in season.

marjorie kinnan rawlings home in cross creek florida

Being a tourist in our own state of Florida is always full of surprises. There never seems to be an end to the places we can visit. Plan in advance on your calendar the local places you want to visit. Each year add a few more places to your hometown bucket list.

author marjorie kinnan rawlings home in cross creek

cross creek florida home of marjorie kinnan rawlings

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Purchase your copy of CROSS CREEK and THE YEARLING

Plan your next vacation to Florida and stay in our rental home. Let us show you some southern hospitality. You might even find a copy of Cross Creek to read out by the pool.  River City’s Retreat

Information and other places to visit

 


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About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.