You might not know Milledgeville, Georgia, without which you have read a few stories by a literary lady named Mary Flannery O’Connor. Yes indeed, dear readers, our love of Southern literature knows no manners or bounds. In the midst of a week long vacation, in the middle of southern Georgia, we decided on a whim to look up the home of Flannery O’Connor, thinking it might not be too far out of our way. Less than an hour east of I-75, only an hour from Atlanta we found Andalusia, the home of Flannery O’Connor, open for visitors and full of literary mystique.
Hidden off U.S. Route 441, Andalusia sits on several generous acres of farmland, hidden from all the commercial signs of the 21st Century. It’s easy to miss the turn-off, as the sign for the farm is barely three feet tall, but that’s the way they like it at the farm. “We don’t want to be like Rock City,” said Mark, our tour guide, by way of explaining that only “real fans of Flannery’s work” ought to visit the small farm, not every random passerby. It was cold and cloudy when we pulled into the gravel mud single-car lane and crunched up the driveway into the quiet little country estate.
Born in Savannah, Georgia on March 25, 1925, Flannery didn’t move to Milledgeville until 1940. Her family had a home in town, as well as the farm at Andalusia where she completed most of her major work, including her novels WISE BLOOD and THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY and nearly all of best known short stories, such as “Good Country People” and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” This is the front view of the house, about two hundred yards up the road from the busy highway.
Past the house, the road continues around to the back, with a swampy pond down the hill and a grassy pasture to the left. Here’s a view of the house from a little further back.
We made it to the house around 3:30 p.m. and parked in the back, where we saw three peacocks. Here’s the backview of the house.
And to the left of the above view, the peacocks were cruising around in their cage. One blossomy male and his two girlfriends.
Inside, we were greeted by Mark, the tour guide, who politely welcomed us and gave us an overview of the house and its history. Flannery, he explained, stayed mostly on the ground floor because of her infirmities related to Lupus (the same disease that killed her father when she was only 15 years old). He also apologized for the state of the house, explaining that before The Flannery O’Connor – Andalusia Foundation was incorporated in 2001 the house was in a state of general disrepair, having been nearly abandoned for several years, despite recent efforts at restoration.
Inside, immediately to the left, we were able to see Flannery’s bedroom and study.
The typewriter wasn’t hers (which is kept elsewhere) but is a replica of the one she preferred, although the desk is in the same position where she wrote. Below is the view of the rest of the room from the bedroom entrance.
The painting was one of Flannery’s favorites, painted by one of her personal friends. I tried to get a closer view of the painting, as it seemed a perfect representation of Flannery’s characters, somehow beautifully grotesque, damned, in need of salvation but refusing to seek it.
More light entered the upstairs bedroom, also somewhat dilapidated but nevertheless elegant and full of warmth.
The view from the fireplace (Georgia winters can be well below freezing).
Ghostly drapes left unmended and untended:
A hitchcockian moment coming down the stairs:
And straight down:
View into the dining room off to the right of the main foyer:
In the foyer, a picture of Flannery side by side with a picture of her father:
Walking into the kitchen:
And that was it. It wasn’t an enormous house, but the ceilings were 14 feet high and it felt like it would have been a lovely home, a restful place to write, and lovely place to entertain your friends in the summer. We didn’t stay long, but we stayed long enough to feel the powerful history of the home. We bought bumper stickers, postcards, and books.
She was a brilliant writer who died too young. We were lucky to visit her home and recommend that you do the same. Here’s the link to the Andalusia Foundation with directions to the farm. Thanks to you, Flannery O’Connor, for all of your wonderful words.