Familiar place, new face
Andalusia, the famed home of Flannery O’Connor, has attracted literary lovers to Milledgeville for decades. Early this August, the Andalusia Foundation gifted the farm to the GCSU Foundation.
The site has recently been closed to the public while Georgia College prepares for the future renovations. However, the significance of this storied site extends well into the past; as visitors cross the threshold of the house, they step into another time.
Andalusia is a wise, old friend with stories to share. The once operational dairy farm remained untouched for about forty years after Flannery O’Connor died before being reopened as a museum.
Many of the buildings surrounding the main house have fallen into disrepair. Matthew Davis, the Director of Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion, said that restoring the site will prove to be a large job for Georgia College, as the buildings, wildlife, and future maintenance must be considered.
“The goal is to stay as close to the period as possible,” said Davis, who will be overseeing the work at Andalusia. “We want to be good stewards of this gift.”
Soon, students will be able to experience Andalusia as Flannery O’Connor once did. The restoration of the site is also intended to create opportunities for students in the form of internships, tours, and class programming. Just as O’Connor used Andalusia as a setting for her work, students will be able to utilize Andalusia to learn and explore.
“For all on campus, it’s an exciting time,” said Davis.“This is an opportunity for us to have full access.”
The significance of changing the farm lies deeper than just the property itself. Andalusia is the backdrop for many of O’Connor’s major works.
“Flannery wrote all of her important work in the front room of that house, while disabled, living with her controlling mother.” said Bruce Gentry, a professor of Flannery O’Connor at GCSU.
“It’s a kind of literary miracle that they managed to live there together. A lot of the farm went into the fiction.”
Taking Andalusia under its wing, Georgia College has the opportunity to invest in this corner of history in the same way that it strives to invest in its students. After this restoration, Andalusia may become a muse, a teacher, a guide, and a friend to those who seek her knowledge.
“It won’t change how we read [O’Connor],” Gentry said. “It will advertise her. It will get more people to pay attention.”
The changes to Andalusia are meant to preserve and enhance her legacy, by bringing awareness of its role as a tangible connection to Flannery O’Connor. Andalusia is an exploration of the past, with a front porch to stand on.
Photo courtesy of Ada Montgomery | Senior Photographer