written by Amanda Cabe
"I don't deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it" ~ Flannery O'Connor
For over a year now I have driven past a modest sign that sits near the front of a gated dirt road. Nestled across the street from a large Ford dealership in Milledgeville, GA, this quaintly sign is simply noted as Andalusia Farm. And for over a year, my curiosity has been peaked. Finally, with the advent and launch of The Sweet Tea Journal, I decided to grab my camera, a notebook and venture down the dirt road that leads to Andalusia Farm. Little did I know the treasure that is sitting at the end of this road, and all of the gifts that Andalusia brings to the local residents of Milledgeville, GA as well as those who are looking to truly enjoy the treasures of the South.
Andalusia Farm is the home of noted Georgia Author, Flannery O'Connor. Maintained today by the Flannery O'Conner - Andalusia Foundation, the Andalusia house is a step back in time. It shares with us the modest living of Flannery and her mother and the beautiful and peaceful environment she had to pen some of her most famous short stories and books. The foundation is a not-for-profit organization that has preserved this patch of heaven for the general public to engage in the history of author as well as enjoy its beautiful surroundings.
In the tradition of southern plantation homes, this house has a large front porch for rocking that rocking chair and is just begging for a glass of sweet tea.
The front porch offers visitors plenty of chairs to sit and relax. As a matter of fact, the staff encourages visitors to really take their time in this self-guided tour of the home and grounds.
When you step through the front door, you can't help but appreciate the foundations efforts to maintain the authenticity of the home. Greeted by April Moon Carlson, the Operations and Visitors Service Manager, we got a brief history of the home; and wonderfully shared stories of Flannery and her life on the farm. To the left of the foyer sits Flannery's bedroom. It rests on the first floor due to her chronic ailment of Lupus. You can see her original bed, desk and typewriter along with the crutches that she used to help her get around.
And to the right you can walk through the dining room furnished as it was when Flannery was alive. You can't help but to appreciate the beauty in the furniture, and see glimpses of Flannery's love of birds all throughout this room.
Past the dining room is the kitchen as Flannery and her mother enjoyed it back in its day. The original appliances remain, along with the original dishes. Well appointed for a southern kitchen of its time, you can tell this was a room welcoming visitors to the farm with a comfortable feel of home. Right past the kitchen is a very well-preserved laundry room, once considered modern, it is complete with a washing machine and wash sink.
There is a wonderful little gift shop that is appointed, appropriately, with all of Flannery O'Conner's novels and short stories. They have partnered with local artists for different bird themed items that have been created to reflect the Flannery's love for birds, as well as fun t-shirts screen-printed with an artist rendition of Flannery herself. There is a beautiful selection of paintings from local Georgia Artisist. I was lucky enough to purchase the last copy of Flannery's Prayer Journal and I picked up a beautifully covered book of her complete stories.
In addition to the house, the grounds of the property have several other homes where farm workers lived over the years. There are several barns and sheds with antique equipment in them, along with plenty of areas to sit down, read a book, enjoy nature and even get a glimpse of the peafowl enclosure.
Andalusia Farm is open to the public Thursdays - Sunday from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm. They love visitors young and old. School field trips can be booked, you can come individually or come as a group. There is no admission cost, though a $10.00 per person donation to the foundation is encouraged. The general public can also use the property to enjoy the Lowler Tobler Creek Trail, offering over a mile-long walking trail for outdoor enthusiasts. They host a number of literary lectures, as well an annual Blue Grass Festival in October featuring local Georgia Blue Grass bands. There is much to at the end of this dirt road. I highly encourage this trip as it was most definitely an afternoon well spent!
For more information on Andalusia Farm, please check out their website at http://www.andalusiafarm.org or call 478-454-4029