The future of Andalusia farm at Georgia College
After accepting the donation of Andalusia Farm in August 2017, GC has started work to restore and preserve the historic site in an effort to provide the most authentic Flannery O’ Connor experience possible.
Matt Davis, the director of Historic Museums for Georgia College, serves as the administrative officer and chief curator for multiple historic sites: Andalusia Farm, Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion and the Sallie Ellis Davis House.
Along with being responsible for public relations, policy making and planning, the director helps conserve and restore the various museums and their collections.
Davis said that through extensive restoration, visitors will be able to experience the storied past that influenced O’ Connor’s work.
“Once we complete the restoration, the site will be fully restored to the period in which Miss O’Connor lived at the site,” Davis said. “Through these efforts, visitors will be able to gain a better understanding of the site and how it influenced her work, the history of the Cline and O’Connor families, an understanding of what life was like in mid-20th century Georgia and the functions of a working dairy farm. So visitors will have a great many things to learn on a visit to the property.”
Meghan Anderson, a staff curator for the site, is responsible for the care and management of the collection at the farm. This includes the outer buildings, the artifacts within the farm house and the house itself. She said the museum hopes to add a visitor center and an education building close to the entrance of the farm.
Anderson said that the possibilities for exciting events on the new-and-improved farm are endless.
“When I began interviewing for the job, my mind went wild with all of the possibilities for events, both small and large,” Anderson said. “Once we reopen, I will be revisiting some of these ideas. Andalusia is unique in that it is so versatile; you can explore it from a historical perspective, a literary or artistic one and, with all of its acres, the environmental side.”
Anderson said that she’s been asked about the return of the Bluegrass Festival more than once.
“Other than, ‘When are you opening?’ the question I get asked the most is, ‘Will you still have the Bluegrass Festival?’” Anderson said. “As a newcomer to the area, I can tell this event is one the community enjoyed and wants to return, so I look forward to getting this going.”
Anderson said she is most excited for the return of O’ Connor’s desk and chair for her room, as well as two bookcases for the side parlor at the farm.
“These items are on loan to us from the GCSU Special Collections,” Anderson said. “Having these four substantial pieces return is a big deal and increases the value of the history and narrative we plan on telling.”
With the re-opening of the farm will come defined hours of operation. Anderson said this will make the farm a more convenient tourist attraction. The planned hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.
Walter Reynolds is currently a member of Milledgeville’s City Council. Serving on the Andalusia Foundation Board, he has assisted in the transfer and restoration of Andalusia Farm in a variety of ways.
“Perhaps the most direct way that board members work to the benefit of their foundations is in finding or providing resources — either by way of monetary donations or volunteering their time,” Reynolds said. “I gave what I could in both cases. I feel that being a part of the transfer of Andalusia to the GC Foundation was perhaps the most important thing that I participated in.”
Reynolds said GC’s acquisition of Andalusia is a perfect fit for both parties.
“GC has the resources and support needed to preserve and maintain Flannery’s literary legacy, and it seems to be a fitting and beneficial arrangement thus far,” Reynolds said.
Fortunately for O’ Connor fans, the wait won’t be too much longer. Although the date for the re-opening of the historic site isn’t set in stone, Davis said he hopes to have the site open for visitors by late spring or early summer.