Sunday, November 10, 2013

Carl Sandburg Home NHS in Greenville, SC

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
Flat Rock, NC

Who knew that beloved American poet Carl Sandburg lived in a tiny village in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains?  I sure didn’t.  Not until I planned this trip.

Connemara Farm

I challenge anyone to come here and not fall in love with this antebellum home on 224 acres.  Miraculously, everything in the house is original.  Items are left throughout the simple, elegant rooms as though Carl has only gone for a walk and will return any minute.  

Our docent (2nd from the left) gave us a wonderful 45-minute tour of the home. 

So how did a life-long Mid-westerner end up here?  The Sandburgs purchased the property in 1945 as a quiet haven for Carl to write and as ample pastureland on which wife Lillian could breed her prize-winning goats. 

The grounds are quite beautiful.  It didn't hurt that it was an ideal Autumn day.

I couldn't do justice to the mountain view seen from this window. 

Here's who Carl Sandburg was in life (1878 – 1967) 

Son of poor Swedish immigrants
College basketball team captain
Rail-riding hobo
Spanish-American War vet
3-time Pulitzer Prize recipient
Goat farmer
Hollywood film consultant
Lincoln biographer
World traveler
Folk musician
Journalist and editor
Grammy winner

We remember him now as a poet.  Known as the peoples’ poet, he had a grass-roots popularity because his verse was so accessible.  No one has to explain it to you.  You know, I don’t think I’ve read his work since a junior-high lit class.  But I’m inspired to now!

You’re probably familiar with some lines of his poetry.

From Chicago: hog butcher for the world.  

And another well-known poem, Fog, that begins:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.  

Sandburg was a rock star!  Our docent opined that in our present-day of movie star and athlete-worship, a poet would never make the cover of Life as he did.  And every other magazine cover.  

When he died, his memorial service was held at the Lincoln Memorial with thousands in attendance.  

The CEO of Zenith was such a fan, he always supplied the Sandburgs with the newest appliances and gadgets.  On the arm of Carl's chair is the very first TV remote control Zenith ever made in 1957.  When there were 2 channels. 

I’m always fascinated to see an artist's work space.  

Indoor writing room
Outdoor writing room

The entire house is enchanting in its simplicity. 

When Carl died in 1967, his widow Lillian wanted The People to own the farm.  So she sold the house, the land, and everything in the house to the National Park Service.  The NPS continues to lovingly tend to it. 

The goat dairy remains a working farm.  Every goat in the herd is a direct descendant of the Sandburg stock. 

And, sadly, I got my last NP stamp of this trip.  I can’t wait to plan the next trip to get some more!  


  1. This is definitely on our "to see" list. My brother has visited many times (he lives in the area) and he felt the same as you described!! A must see!!
    I especially liked the outdoor writing room!! How perfect is that!!!

    1. Oh yes, worth the trip. The marker near the famous chair notes that Sandburg would work there with his writing tablet and pencil (which he sharpened with his penknife).

      Hope you get there soon!

  2. I had no idea Carl Sandburg lived there!

    I loved the simplicity of his home. That was pretty unusual for his time, wasn't it?

    I remember the fog coming in on little cat feet, but don't remember anything else of his work. Will have to look it up and see what I've been missing.

    Another great post. I feel as though I were looking over your shoulder, almost. :)

  3. Kim, Your pictures are amazing !

  4. I live right down the road from this national treasure, so glad you stopped by! You have a great time on the road and keep thrilling your readers with the great photos and pithy prose. I love reading your entries. Hugs from Flat Rock (we live in the woods near the Green River Gorge, just south of where you were visiting.)

    1. Well, you are in a beautiful spot of the world! Thanks for the kind words.


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