Thursday Doors / Florida Cracker Houses

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Old Florida Cracker House

I grew up in a Northwest Florida vernacular house similar to this one, pictured above but without the second story attachment in the back. The screened front porch was attached to the gable end, facing a clay country road; the centered front door on the house was flanked by a pair of sash windows on either side. Wood steps led down to a sparse lawn below. A brick fireplace chimney rose on the east side of the house, and a two-track driveway ran alongside the west side. Of course, a back door opened at the other end; with both doors wide open on hot summer days, cooling breezes could sweep right through.

Early settlers in Florida built primitive, one-room houses consisting of four walls, a door, several windows, a fireplace and chimney, and sometimes a covered porch. No Cracker-style home, however, would be complete without its covered porch for summer shade in humid weather. 

Man Posing Next to Florida Cracker House
Photo Credit: Catherine Olmstead

 This basic wood frame on a raised platform prevailed in rural Florida from the 1860s through the 1930s and early 1940s, eventually becoming one of the state’s most distinctive architectural forms. It was immortalized in books by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, especially Cross Creek and The Yearling and South Moon Under.

Workers home in North Florida 1880’s | Florida pictures, Creepy houses, Old Florida
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Note how the house is propped up on piled or stacked stones in case of ground flooding following a heavy rain causing the creeks to rise. Until the U.S. Corps of Engineers dug a system of ditches along the roads and highways, country homes were subject to these seasonal floods. In fact, ditches through the pine woods ran through our own acreage. Daddy constructed foot bridges to gain access to the chicken houses on the back sides.

Below is a Cracker cabin with the porch on the side and the fireplace chimney at the end.

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Pin by Kit Lawson Cuccinello on Art ideas | Cracker house, Old Florida, Florida style

This house has two front doors, flanked by a single window on each side, and no steps. The front porch has rotted and fallen away, as we can see from the markings just under the house eaves.

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Old Florida Cracker House, Raleigh Fl by djw2013, via Flickr: Dori Weldon Photography

Here, the front door is on the side of the house, with an entry gable added to the roof, above the door. Have you noticed the old “tin” roofs on these houses? Imagine the sound of rains lulling your senses and calming your nerves.

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Does anyone still live here? As these once-fine old homes were abandoned after the last owners have moved away, preferring the cookie-cutter houses of the 1950s, many fell into rack and ruin, remaining only as remnants of a bygone era.

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Fading into the Past – Sean Toler Photo 


Celebrating just over fifty years of holy matrimony, I am blessed to be a mother of two and grandmother of seven. Much of my writing speaks to the culture and tradition of the Deep South, where I spent the first thirty-five years of my life before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. As a poet and essayist, I’ve published both online and in print media. I launched this INVITATION TO THE GARDEN blog the summer of 2017 on I look forward to hearing your stories, too!

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