Tucked away in the town of Flat Rock, near Hendersonville, is the Carl Sandburg Home, a National Historic Site, part of the US Government’s National Park Service, which means, and here’s the irony, the site, and current major renovation, is paid for by you and me, when Sandburg made no bones about his love of Socialism. Hmmmm. The ultimate stick it to the taxpayer, sell the estate to the US Government.
I was surprised how beautiful the land and property is. Mrs. Sandburg was quite the famous goat breeder and the goat barn is actually more interesting than the house.
Lillian Sandberg’s brother was the famous photographer Edward Steichen, also a Socialist.
In early 1908 Edward Steichen’s sister Lilian — poet, essayist, and committed socialist — entered into an intensive correspondence with her new beau Carl Sandburg, also a poet and socialist. In February, she sent Sandburg a copy of The Century Magazine with an article about Edward Steichen. In describing her brother, she told Sandburg ‘One thing I have done for my brother. I’ve helped make a socialist of him — just as I helped make one of mother. And I hope someday brother will help the movement with his art. He photographed the leading socialists at the Stuttgart Convention last August — something may come of that’. Towards the end of 1908, something actually did ‘come of that’: Steichen’s portraits of socialists were published by the prominent American socialist Robert Hunter, in his widely read book Socialists at Work
The home right now is all packed up, getting ready for a major overhaul. I asked two separate guides how much you and I were in for dollar-wise for the repair and got no answer. A lot, was the best answer.
Carl Sandburg died on June 22, 1967, his wife Lilian determined that his legacy and home in Flat Rock, NC should be preserved forever. She gave her support to North Carolina Congressman Roy Taylor and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall in authorizing the Carl Sandburg Home as a National Park. The park was officially authorized on October 17, 1968 and the property was sold with its contents and cultural resources donated to the park service. The site officially opened in 1974.
The park’s vast historical and cultural resources include 264 acres of pastures, ponds, small mountains and hiking trails, as well as a total of fifty structures, including the Sandburg’s residence and goat barn. The museum and archival collection housed in the 4,000 square foot Museum Preservation center is also an important resource. It is the one of the biggest collections of its kind in the Southeast Region, containing 325,298 items that include letters, telegrams, maps, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings and 12,000 volumes of the Sandburg’s books.
From the What are the Odds department, asked by the guide, Where are You From, I answered New York. Then he said, Where in New York? My sister lives in Bedford Hills. At which point, the woman in the teal top said, Oh my Goodness, I grew up in Katonah!
The kitchen was as it was when Sandburg died – that was the instructions he left to his wife that when she gave the property to the National Park Service, it should look as if the family still lived there.
Overall, a most UNDERWHELMING experience, but hey, when in Flat Rock…..