Visit America’s newest historical landmark in Milledgeville

The main house on the Andalusia property where Flannery O’Connor resided with her mother.

Credit: Anagha Ramakrishnan

Credit: Anagha Ramakrishnan

The main house on the Andalusia property where Flannery O’Connor resided with her mother.

Walk into the home of Mary “Flannery” O’Connor and you’ll find it just the way it was in the 1950s.

The home is named Andalusia, and it’s said to be the inspiration behind works such as “Wise Blood” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Recently, it’s been named a national historic landmark by the National Park Service.

Andalusia served as a muse for Flannery O’Connor, and her stories captured the essence of Georgia’s former capital, Milledgeville. After being diagnosed with lupus, O’Connor spent the last 13 years of her life at Andalusia. She spent time with her mother on the dairy farm, writing and taking care of her peacocks until her death in 1964.

“Fewer than 3% of all US historic sites have (been named a national historic landmark) and what it just means is that of all the sites in the nation, these are the most significant to the cultural history of the United States,” Director of Historic Museums at Georgia College and State University Matthew Davis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Flannery O’Connor was considered arguably one of the most prolific and important writers of the mid-20th century. Andalusia served as not only her home, but it was an environment that inspired many of the elements, stories, or characters in her writings. Also, it’s a great example of a well-preserved mid-1950s dairy farm that was operated predominately by a female — her mother.”

O’Connor’s works defined the Southern Gothic genre, and as a disabled female writer in the ‘60s Flannery O’Connor left behind a prominent legacy. Living just a couple miles from Central State Hospital — the world’s largest mental institution, and an institution that has a long history of mistreatment and malpractice — O’Connor wrote 32 short stories, two novels and over 100 literary critiques during her time in Andalusia.

“She was (working) at a time when people were still sending their physically disabled relatives just up to Central State and ignored,” Georgia College Museum Curator Cassie Munnell said.

“She was out here on her crutches still working, still publishing. And that’s honestly really awesome that ... people knew that she was disabled and still read her work. And the house preserves a lot of, in many ways, her adaptive legacy as well. And her room specifically, you can see the ways she adapted her life so that she could work around her lupus.”

Occupied by two peacocks, Astor and Mrs. Shortley — appropriately named after characters in O’Connor’s novella “The Displaced Person” — Andalusia is open to the public. So lovers of history and literature are welcome to visit. Andalusia is preserved just the way it was when O’Connor lived there.

O’Connor’s impact on American culture is still felt today. One visitor traveled from Wisconsin and attended Georgia College and State University just because of Flannery O’Connor.

“There are so many people that come to Georgia College who don’t really know much about Flannery O’Connor, which would be a shock to some people that come here because of her,” docent Grace Rickman said.

“And I think that (being named a historic landmark) will hopefully bring more attention to Andalusia here. With that being said, it is a gift that people from all over come here and visit.”

The property is now owned and preserved by Georgia College and State University. Andalusia is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m.-4 p.m. on Sundays. Tours occur at the top of every hour.

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