by Megan K. Scott
Florida Today – Melbourne, Fla.
Zora Neale Hurston says it best herself.
In a July 9, 1951, letter to historian Jean Parker Waterbury, she writes: “Somehow this one spot on earth feels like home for me. I have always intended to come back here. That is why I’m doing so much to make a go of it.”
Anyone familiar with Hurston, a folklorist, anthropologist and author during the Harlem Renaissance, would assume that “this one spot” is Eatonville, the adopted hometown she writes about so eloquently in many of her works, including “Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography.” (Hurston actually was born in Alabama). The Orlando suburb Eatonville features prominently in much of Hurston’s writing, including the “How it Feels to Be Colored Me” essay and her most famous novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”
But the one spot is a cottage in Eau Gallie at Guava Avenue and Fifth Street (now Aurora Road), blocks from the Indian River. Hurston lived in that cottage twice, in 1929 and again in 1951. She also lived in an efficiency apartment in Cocoa Beach and rented a mobile home on Merritt Island while working at the technical library for Pan American World Airways at Patrick Air Force Base.
“You can see, she had a lot of ties to Brevard County,” said Ben Brotemarkle, executive director of the Florida Historical Society, who provided the aforementioned information. “A lot of it is not known. Her time in Brevard County is probably the least documented part of her life.”
Brotemarkle has been making a lot of discoveries about Hurston’s time here as the Florida Historical Society puts together a traveling exhibit, “Zora Neale Hurston in Brevard County,” with photographs, letters from Hurston to friends and other artifacts. Brotemarkle said he envisions the exhibit will be housed at the Roesch House across the street from the Rossetter House Museum, blocks from where the cottage Hurston lived in used to stand.
The exhibit coincides with a continuing interest in Hurston, who died broke and in obscurity in Fort Pierce in 1960. About 200,000 people attended this year’s Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities in Orange County. Her house in Fort Piercehistoric landmark. And scholars continue to study Hurston’s work and fill in the missing pieces of her life, such as…Visit Florida Today For Rest of Story