Cracker House of Florida

Art & Culture

History reveals that the word ‘cracker’ has its origin in Southern Georgia. The term ‘Cracker’ has its association with the country-folk cowboys who used to crack their grains of corn to make their meals.

The dwellers of North Florida in the early 19th Century were called the early ‘Corn-Crackers’. The term has been changed in their hands as they personalized its meaning. The term bears the reference to the cracking sound of the whips, made from leather and it was employed either to drive their cattle or to rejuvenate a weary mule (a young male donkey and a female horse used to carry loads) to pull harder on the plow.

‘Cracker Houses’ have been featured with their distinct shapes and structures. ‘Cracker Houses’ belonged to the Cracker Architecture of Florida. It is a part of the ‘Vernacular technology’ of the Cracker Farmhouses. They are considered to be the landmark of contemporary architecture. ‘Cracker Houses’ have their specific layouts with modest floor plans, laying out rooms and doors in a linear pattern from the front door and out the back without hitting a thing. The movements from one room to another inside the house are not hindered. The inner space is open that excludes hallway and privacy.

‘Cracker Houses’ veins the typical Florida culture of cowboys. These houses remind us about the unpretentious people of the rural communities of the peninsular and Panhandle wetlands of Florida. The ‘Cracker Houses’ represent the rural farmhouses, the rearing of cattle, the cultivation of the inhabitants of Florida during the early 19th Century (Haase, 1992).


Cracker house & environmental condition

The cracker houses had some marvellous features to resist the hostility of the environment. The landscape was harsh and swampy. The lack of soil, the extreme heat, and the humidity were the demons against which the early inhabitants of Florida had to protect their houses. So, they built their cracker houses with hard pine or cypress woods which had extreme durability. They made elevated footings, not touched with land for avoiding moisture. The houses were made in a linear way with a large porch area for better ventilation of wind. There was a straight way between the rooms called ‘dog-trot’. The roof was covered with metals. These hoses had a fireplace and a chimney for the passing out of excess heat. The windows were spacious for entering the light and air (Haase, 1992).




Cracker house with larger social trends

With the turn of this Century, Florida was emerging from its native backwoods character into a sophisticated culture. Railroads, Highway, and Automobile like trucks made easy communication and sociability between the farmers and the merchant. Cracker Houses had also adopted the cultural sophistication of town living. The offspring of the farmers dwelt in the cracker houses, went to the town to refine education. Their taste had been changed. The old-fashioned Cracker Houses had also been changed by adopting sophistication. The Queen Anne style was the basic attraction in Victorian-Era designs. And the Cracker houses having the shotgun-style were going to be changed from their traditional expression into a stylish uniformity. But the Cracker Houses never lost its dignity. From the configuration of the simplest pioneering cabin the single Pen house, down through its double pen or dog-trot offspring, the homes of the Crackers had maintained a formal dignity. And thus the “Late Cracker Houses” appeared (Haase, 1992).


Cracker house and its effect on the daily life of the inhabitants

The structure and the layout had left a distinct mark on the daily habits of the inhabitants. The Cracker farm houses indulged in the plantation of vegetables. In every family, the men used to work in the field to earn bread. Women were responsible for the kitchen. The specious dog-trot gave a perfect ambiance for the evening gossip. The large windows beautifully snapped the nature outside. The structure of the Cracker house indulged the integrity among the family members. Little privacy created a scope for the interaction of its dwellers. The cozy atmosphere inside the Cracker house and swampy the harsh nature of the outside made the family members hardworking and caring. The isolation of modern interference helped to create a new Cracker Culture of their own (Haase, 1992).

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