Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site | PARK AT A GLANCE

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

PARK OVERVIEW

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site preserves the last home of the renowned American author and poet. Located in Flat Rock, North Carolina, Sandburg lived the last 22 years of his life at the home known as Connemara, dying in 1967 at age 89 in his upstairs bedroom. The next year, his wife Lillian donated the property, house, and all furnishings to the National Park Service, creating the very first National Park dedicated to an American poet.

Visitors to the park can take a Ranger-guided tour of the house, watch two short films about Sandburg, visit the goat farm (aka the Goat Barn) established by Lilian, and hike five miles of trails that traverse the 248-acre property. There is a small fee for the house tour, but no other charge to walk the trails or visit the goat farm.

The parking lot is located .3 miles from the house, which is on the top of a hill, and the walk is up a steep road. A shuttle service is provided for those who cannot walk to the house on their own. A phone number is posted on a sign at the parking lot. If the main parking lot is full, you can park across the street at the Flat Rock Playhouse until noon and in the afternoon when there are no performances; in the parking lot behind the Flat Rock Village Offices at 110 Village Center Drive (short walk to main parking lot); and a half-mile down the road at the Hiker’s Parking Lot.

Steep walk up the driveway from the parking lot to the house

Steep walk up the driveway from the parking lot to the house

Carl Sandburg was born in 1878 in Galesburg, Illinois, where his boyhood home is now a State Historic Site. As a teenager, he quit school after eighth grade and worked at a variety of manual labor jobs. He even spent time as a hobo. After joining the military during the Spanish-American War (1898), in which he never saw combat, he entered Lombard College in Galesburg in 1899. He wrote for the college newspaper and became the editor. Though he never earned a degree, his writing talent was recognized by one of his professors, Phillip Wright, who encouraged him to pursue writing as a career. Wright would go on to print a booklet of Sandburg’s poems, Reckless Ecstasy, on a basement printing press in 1904; this was the first printed work of Sandburg.

His many years of working manual labor jobs and spending time with the workers shaped his writing and political philosophy. He moved to Milwaukee and became very active in the Wisconsin Social Democratic Party (the Socialist Party of America name in Wisconsin), where he was a vocal spokesman for the American laborer. In 1907, while he was working as an organizer for the Party, he met Lilian Steichen, who he married in 1908. The couple had three daughters, Margaret, Janet, and Helga.

Sandburg would first gain national attention in 1914 when he won an award for best poems of the year and was published in Poetry magazine. Five years later, in 1919, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection of poems, Corn Huskers. He would go on to write children’s books, novels, and movie scripts. However, his most ambitious project was a biography on Abraham Lincoln. He published the first two volumes in 1926, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, and four more volumes in 1939, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1940. Sandburg also loved singing folk music and playing guitar, and often performed at his public appearances. He published a thoroughly researched collection of American folk songs. He ultimately won three Pulitzers (a third for Poetry in 1950), one Grammy for Best Spoken Word Performance, and numerous other awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


OPERATING HOURS

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site is open daily, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The Sandburg House and the Goat Barn are open from 9 AM to 5 PM. The grounds are open from sunrise to sunset for those wanting to hike. Keep in mind that times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to check the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site’s Operating Hours and Seasons web page for the latest schedule.


FEES

There is a fee to tour the Sandburg Home. For the current ticket prices, check the National Park Service’s official Fees and Passes web page for the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.

There is no fee to visit the rest of the park—Visitor Center, Goat Barn, and trails.


SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

Visitor Center
allow 30 minutes

House Tour
allow 1-2 hours

Goat Barn
allow 30 minutes

Hiking Trails
up to 7 hours worth of hiking trail


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Last updated on March 20, 2020
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