Tuesday, April 29, 2014

William Faulkner's House - Rowan Oak

I'm sure you've heard over the course of this semester I've talked about my William Faulkner Class I took (or actually am taking since next week is finals...). Well anyway, there are only 5 students in this class so the teacher was able to load us up in his van and we drove to Oxford, MS to roam around in William Faulkner's own stomping ground. Our first stop was to William Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak. It was named after two trees that are no longer on the place. The house itself was built in 1844 and stands on 29 acres. Faulkner bought the house in the 1930's for around $6,000. It was in fairly bad shape but he did most of the repairs himself in the afternoons after he finished writing in the mornings.

These trees were all over the place. How gorgeous are they?!

Once we entered the house we greeted and received an awesome insight into the house. Sadly they have all the rooms blocked off where you can just barely walk in and see things, you can't actually walk around the room.

This was the Library, just as you entered and to your left.

The Parlor was to the right from the entry hall.

And then this display case was located outside the parlor. Dr. Meats (our professor) was telling us all about the different items that were in the display case.

After you walked through a hallway the dining room was on your right. The door in the back corner of the top photo took you into a room (closed off remember) that housed the only phone in the house and the phone that Faulkner got the call he had won the Nobel Prize. Then there was a hallway that led to the kitchen that was added on during the second remodel in the early 50's. We weren't allowed in there either.

The stairs were fascinating and like most southern houses, there were 2 sets of stairs used to get upstairs.

Faulkner's office was added on during one of the remodels. The house was originally in an L shape. Estelle (his wife) was overseas when he did the second remodel and when she came home he figured that she would paint/wall paper the rooms but she refused. While she was gone he got the idea for a book and wrote it on the actual wall, again planning on it being covered up but she refused and so there it stands.

Here was Faulkner's typewriter that he typed all of his books out on. This was on display just outside of his office.

Once you went upstairs, Estelle's room was actually in the back of the house and it was part of the original L shape the house was in, even though it was added on later. To get to the back bedrooms you had to start in the front bedroom (Jill's, their daughter), go through Faulkner's bedroom and then you'd get to Estelle's bedroom.

Sadly Faulkner and his wife Estelle didn't have the best of relationships. They had been high school sweethearts but her family didn't approve of him so she married some man who whisked her away to the Philippians. She and that man had 2 kids. Then when she was ready to come home, she left him and moved the children back to her family home in Oxford. William married her, from what we're told, because he was afraid she might commit suicide. She actually tried while they were on their honeymoon. As the years went by their marriage deteriorated and she offered him a divorce many times. He wouldn't take her up on this however he also had many mistresses on the side.

This might be the cause/reason that they have separate bedrooms. Faulkner's room was located between Estelle's room and Jill's room.

Jill was the second but only daughter that Faulkner and Estelle had. They had one prior to Jill, Alabama, but she only lived to be 10 days old. Jill's room is the only room in the entire house that has a radio. Faulkner claimed that he had enough voices in his head, he didn't need a tv or radio to contribute to that. Jill begged her dad for a radio but he wouldn't let her have one. Eventually her mother broke down and bought her one.

There was one guest room in the entire house. Faulkner was a very private man so I don't think they had many guests. Estelle's son lived with them until he was old enough to move out on his own and no one can really tell me what happened to Estelle's daughter. She's never really mentioned.

This was a closet underneath the stairs in the front room where they found a lot of Faulkner's work. It was funny that Rowan Oak butts up against Ole Miss, however he told Jill that any work of his just send it to the University of Virginia. Jill wound up splitting it between the two universities.

In the olden days before air conditioning in houses, kitchens were actually outdoors in a separate building so that you didn't heat up the house in the summer. This is the original kitchen. Sadly they don't allow people in there. Me being who I am would have LOVED to see the kitchen!

This kitchen was one of the additions that was added on to the house. We weren't allowed in there, just able to peek through windows. But as you can tell, there wasn't much counter space at all.

They had a nanny who was born a slave into the Falkner family (yes I left the u out because the original Falkner name didn't have a u, he added that to his pen name) in the 1800's. She lived to be 100 years old and even after slavery became abolished, she stayed with the Faulkners and raised Jill up until she was 6, that was the time Nanny Caroline Barr passed away (at 100 years old). Faulkner had this house built for Caroline to live in, it was just out back of the kitchen so that she'd have her own privacy.

This is the East and the West side of the house. The west side under the awning is where they parked their car. And this is the little hut thing that Faulkner built for himself.

And there you have it, my tour of Rowan Oak :). Obviously with it sitting on 29 acres there is a lot more but we mainly stuck around the house. It costs $5 a person to get into the house (I think that's what we paid anyway). There is also the horse barns and a trail that will walk you right up to the middle of the Ole Miss Campus. We didn't walk the trail. They've kept this all in tact but it actually now sits in the middle of town basically.



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4 comments:

  1. Oh how I would have loved to visit this house, it is just so the type of thing I love to do

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  2. Great recap I felt like i was taking the tour with you! So sad that their relationship was never very good.

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  3. I understand that lots of the stuff is old but i don't get why no one can see any of it. That just seems such a waste. If they are worried about vandalism or things getting destroyed they could just charge a bit more and only do private tours.

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  4. AAAH so that's what was in MS! I would have love to have gone with you! What a beautiful place with so much history.

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