From a farm in central Georgia, author Flannery O'Connor took on the contradictory mores of the American South. Now, O'Connor's alma mater is taking over the home to help preserve it for future visitors, reports Kathleen Foody of the Associated Press.
O'Connor did not make her way to Andalusia, a 19th-century plantation outside of Milledgeville, Georgia, by choice. Severely ill with lupus for the last decade of her life, in 1951, the disease forced O'Connor to live in the rural estate with her mother, Regina, who ran the 544-acre dairy farm, which she inherited from O'Connor's uncle, Bernard. At Andalusia, O'Connor fought isolation and boredom with a flock of peacocks and widespread travel to lecture on faith and literature. Famously, she also wrote—a series of novels and short stories that came to be seen as foundational works for the literary subgenre of "Southern gothic."
After O'Connor's death in 1964 at age 39, Andalusia continued to operate as a dairy farm, passing through the hands of O'Connor's relatives. In 1980, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2001, two of her cousins established a foundation to preserve the estate and open it to the public.
But the foundation struggled to raise money to keep up the house in recent years, and wasn't able to make necessary upgrades for tourists, like a detached visitors' center, reports Foody. So on Wednesday it gifted the farm to O'Connor's alma mater, Georgia College and State University in nearby Milledgeville.
"In making this gift to Georgia College, we are confident that by entrusting the care of that legacy to her alma mater we will ensure that Andalusia can continue to be a focal point for those who wish to study her works, honor her talents and further their own literary pursuits,” Donna Barwick of the Andalusia Foundation says in a statement.
GCSU plans to keep Andalusia open for tours to the public, Foody reports. The estate will also be used for a variety of educational programs, and to house visiting scholars and writers, WMAZ reports.