Organizations: Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation
Like a peacock fanning its plumage, Andalusia, Flannery O’Connor’s homeplace in Milledgeville, is undergoing a restoration sure to enliven the author’s notoriety beyond her traditional readership.
“We’ve always had literary pilgrims from around the world who visit once and shed a tear,” says director Elizabeth Wylie. “We welcome them, but we’re also transforming this place into a working farm, with a variety of programming that celebrates the arts and life ways of O’Connor’s era. We want visitors to have reasons to return and gain something new and enriching from each experience.”
O’Connor penned Southern Gothic classics such as Wise Blood and A Good Man is Hard to Find on the 544-acre dairy farm before her death in 1964. Following her mother’s death in 1995, the land was bequeathed to two cousins, who established the nonprofit Flannery O’Connor – Andalusia Foundation in 2001. It runs on an annual operating budget of $225,000, derived mostly from individual donations.
Wylie, who has worked extensively as a curator in the Northeast, took her position in January with big goals in mind. Guided by old photos, she is cultivating heirloom gardens and organizing farm-to-table dinners that draw from them, and – inspired by vintage clothing preserved in the house – she has established a sewing club. Plans for children’s camps are in the works, as well.
And, of course, there are birds. O’Connor kept as many as 50 peafowl, and today the aviary is patrolled by peacocks and peahens. As the old dairy equipment is refurbished, they might be joined by cattle.
“We want to be a sustainable center for community-building,” Wylie says. “O’Connor was a social person, so we think she would approve.”