The granddaughter of Ross Allen has returned to her roots in Marion County.
One of Marthalynne Allen’s earliest memories is helping her grandfather Ross Allen feed alligators at his reptile institute, which was a major draw at the Silver Springs Attraction for years. The noted outdoorsman made an impression on his young granddaughter, and she has approached life with his same sense of adventure.
Marthalynne’s life story is a winding path that began in the woods of Marion County and has brought her back to her roots as she now is helping staff the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center on weekends. She approaches the job with a passion for the arts and history. Impromptu tours with her are not uncommon and visitors delight in her unique perspective of the area.
There were several pivotal moments in Marthalynne’s young years, such as when her father moved his family so he could study at the University of Florida and later at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta.
As a girl, Marthalynne absorbed academia to some degree, but art has always been her passion. A field trip as a young student to the Atlanta Museum of Art exposed her to the works of Picasso and she decided that day she would be an artist. She has since pursued painting, photography and acting.
Her father later worked as the director of a Presbyterian summer camp in Laurel Hill, North Carolina, and Marthalynne spent the rest of her childhood in that setting until she began college. She earned degrees in art and drama from St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, North Carolina. She was awarded several scholarships, which led her to postgraduate studies in acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and in poetry at the Ezra Pound Center for Literature at Brunnenberg Castle in northern Italy. An acting career after college took her to regional theaters across the United States, including in Hawaii.
She eventually returned to the Carolinas and started a company that installed solar photovoltaics, wind and micro hydroelectric systems to generate electricity in remote locations. One of the most challenging projects was in a Native American (Inuit) village in Ambler, Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle.
The tech world could not hold her, however, and she sold the company and began studies in photography at the Maine Media Workshops + College, where her unique view through the lens won her the Golden Light Award.
After that, Marthalynne headed south and settled in Saint Augustine to work as a creative photographer and gallery representative. Her most recent move was to Citra. She volunteered at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park in Cross Creek as a historical interpreter and began to work at Mockernut Hill Botanical Gardens in Shiloh, where she learned to apply her artistic talent to plantings and floral arrangements.
As an artist, she says, she strives to “tell stories with my art.”
“I don’t intentionally use written words to tell the story but leave that up to the viewer,” she offers. OS
Scott Mitchell is a field archaeologist, scientific illustrator and director of the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center, located at 1445 NE 58th Ave., Ocala, inside the Silver River State Park. Museum hours are 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday. Admission to the park is $2 per person; free ages 6 and younger. To learn more, go to silverrivermuseum.com.