Rowan Oak
August 11, 2008 3:50 PM   Subscribe

Rowan Oak: In 1930, William Faulkner purchased what was then known as "The Bailey Place," a large primitive Greek Revival house that pre-dated the Civil War standing on four acres of cedars and hardwoods. Take a virtual tour of the home that housed this great American writer.
posted by Fizz (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Self link: my Rowan Oak flickr set

I've been to Rowan Oak a few times. It's always interesting to see the other people who go out of their way to see Faulkner's home. You wonder if some of them have ever read any book, much less "Absalom, Absalom!"
posted by ColdChef at 4:58 PM on August 11, 2008

Thanks for this; I'm a huge Faulkner fan, and would love to get to his home someday. In the meantime, this is the next best thing.
posted by languagehat at 5:22 PM on August 11, 2008

Cynthia Shearer's essay about her years as curator at Rowan Oak—"The Famous Writers' School: Lessons from Faulkner's House"—is excellent.
posted by Knappster at 5:38 PM on August 11, 2008

My family and I stopped at Rowan Oak on the way home from a trip to New Orleans in December 2004. It was wonderful: spacious and well-lit, and the grounds were a wintery muted green color. We were the only people there, and the docent was incredibly nice, just the right balance between informative and letting us explore on our own. It was amazing, and I'd love to go back.

Afterwards, we drove into Oxford, and my dad bought me Graham Greene's Travels with my Aunt at Square Books.
posted by matematichica at 6:32 PM on August 11, 2008

My 11th grade English teacher (11th grade is the year we took American Lit; 10th grade is pretty much just survey and here's how to write a proper essay, while 12th grade is Serious AP European Lit, from Dante to Dickens) had the stones to take a bunch of us on a weekend overnight trip from Little Rock to Oxford after we had read Go Down, Moses.

We first visited the Center for Southern Culture. Then later in the afternoon we met up with Faulkner's nephew(?), who walked us through the cemetery and told us stories everyone buried there. They turned us free in the evening, and I spent half my time alone, browsing in Square Books - the other half I spent with all the other kids at some ratty restaurant/music venue/hangout whose name I can't remember. But it's the kind where the walls are held up by multiple layers of paint and sharpie graffiti, where the beer is cold and domestic, and the music is college rock. When you are in 11th grade, it is the coolest place on the planet, especially because you are hanging out with girls in another town.

In the morning, we hit up a bakery and then went to Rowan Oak, again meeting with Mr Faulkner's relative. It was a beautiful spring day and I don't know why, but that place hit me and hit me hard. I wrote a cheesy poem about The Trees when I got home; the kind that angsty high school kids write - but that doesn't mean that I didn't feel something on the trip.

We stopped by a roadside diner on the way home that afternoon, where the menu just says things like "green beans" and "cornbread" and "roast beef" and it tastes better than your mama's Sunday lunch.

At any rate, I just wanted to say thanks, Mrs. Hargis - that trip really meant a lot to me and I'll always remember it.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 7:36 PM on August 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Haha! So, he bought this house, moved in, and wrote As I Lay Dying? I can relate, Mr. Fualkner. I too think moving sucks.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:50 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Rowan Oak = Roanoke? At least, word-wise? Or am I new to this realization?
posted by grubi at 6:04 AM on August 12, 2008

I used to live one house over from Roanoke on the same street as the entrance to the property. If you walk all the way through the Roanoke property you'll end up at Ole Miss' baseball field and band practice field. I remember sitting on our back porch listening to Dixie come softly through the forest. Cool stuff.
posted by tayknight at 6:10 AM on August 12, 2008

heh. don't type Roanoke instead of Rowan Oak before the first cup of coffee :)
posted by tayknight at 6:14 AM on August 12, 2008

In my post-college, why-can't-I-leave-Oxford days, I was friends with curator and after work (at that damn book store) would sometimes come by and see him. And he'd let me drink coffee in Faulkner’s kitchen and as these were also my starving-shitty-artist days it was a dream come true. When it was slow enough and we were sure the visitors didn’t know much English, and since I had seen it plenty of times before, he would let me, on rare occassions and under supervision, give the tour.

Everyone’s favorite part was the plot outline to the Fable written in large letters on his office wall. My favorite part in the house was the phone numbers scribbled in a two foot radius around the phone. But the grounds outside are the best, cedar trees and magnolias and, as mentioned above, during the right season, the sound of the Pride of the South band practicing or the crack of baseballs on bats and ensuing crowd roars off in the distance.

I went back a couple weeks ago with and was showing a new girlfriend around. The town has changed, or maybe I just grew up, but some favorite bars are gone and condos have popped up like weeds. A few old trees on the grounds have fallen on account of ice and wind. But Bill (the curator) is still there, so I was able to impress the girl by letting her backstage to use Faulkner's bathroom.

She's pretty great, but she absolutely did not care. This is something we're working through.
posted by gordie at 7:34 AM on August 12, 2008

Aw, one of my very first dates with my now-fiance was to Rowan Oak because he was reading Faulkner at the time. I even did an Ask post about Faulkner-themed food for the trip! We returned about a year later. Weather was gorgeous both times...

The bookstores in Oxford are pretty fun too.
posted by ifjuly at 8:37 AM on August 12, 2008

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