As a follow up to Flannery O’Connor’s Childhood Home in Savannah, during my recent jaunt through Middle Georgia, I was most looking forward to visiting Andalusia, home to O’Connor for the last 13 years of her life, and where she wrote many of her most important works. O’Connor joined her mother at the farm in Milledgeville after being diagnosed with lupus, the disease that also took her father’s life. Living on the farm turned out to inspire many of the settings and characters in her novels and short stories.
Though she did take time out to eat lunch in town with her mother, attend church and social events, and give speeches, O’Connor focused a great deal of her time writing stories on her typewriter at her desk in her front parlor-turned bedroom. It’s almost like her diagnosis made her focus on what was most important, her writing. Aren’t we lucky because of that?
I was so struck by my surroundings that it was hard to imagine that O’Connor fought a terrible disease here. If it weren’t for her crutches propped up in her bedroom, I might have almost forgotten.
I think Alice Walker put it best when she described her visit to Andalusia in her essay, “Beyond the Peacock: The Reconstruction of Flannery O’Connor.” She wrote, “Standing there knocking on Flannery O’Connor’s door, I do not think of her illness, her magnificent work in spite of it; I think: it all comes back to houses. To how people live.”
Andalusia is still peaceful and beautiful today, all 544 acres of it. The first floor of the home has been left much like it was when O’Connor and her mother, Regina, lived there. There’s a wide screened in porch on the front of the house and trees that shade most of the yard. A conversation with the director indicated, though, that keeping up Andalusia is a financial struggle. Admission is free, though they appreciate a donation of $5 per adult. There is a small but nice gift shop. (I couldn’t resist buying the bumper sticker that said, “A Good Man is Hard to Find – Flannery O’Connor said it best”). If Andalusia isn’t in better financial shape soon, its governing foundation may have to start selling off some of the land to keep the house running. To find out more about how you can help, visit www.andalusiafarm.org.