Zora Neale Hurston Rediscovered

From famous to forgotten, this literary legend's flamboyant past is preserved in Fort Pierce.
Zora at the 1937 New York Times Book Fair, soon after publishing her best-known novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. She had arrived in New York 12 years earlier with $1.50 in her purse and “with the map of Florida on my tongue.”

The balmy breezes, warm climate and sea air of the Treasure Coast have nurtured many talents, but only a few with the creative force their peers label “genius.” A quiet walk into a modest and almost forgotten cemetery off Avenue D in Fort Pierce rewards the curious with an array of a few graves, one of which features assorted gifts of fruit, flowers, toys, notes and the feeling of recent loss. Here is the last resting place of Zora Neale Hurston – writer, folklorist, anthropologist, queen of the Harlem Renaissance, devoted daughter of Florida and “genius of the South.”

A few blocks further west reveals her last home across from Lincoln Park Academy. It’s a small, green bungalow where she lived rent free as her health declined. Dr. C.C. Benton, who owned the house, wrote: “I considered it an honor to help her, to sit and listen to her experiences and knowledge as a writer.”

Read the entire article in the Summer 2004 issue

Categories: Features, Local History