Founded in 1803, this charming town is overflowing with rich history as the former capital of Georgia to the inspiration behind many of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. Historical landmarks line the streets of Milledgeville. Travel back into different time periods as you uncover the town's role in shaping America’s history and the leaders behind it. Here are seven tours to help you unpack the town's fascinating history:
Georgia's Old Governor's Mansion
A must-do during your time in Milledgeville is seeing Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion. Hidden from her exterior, be prepared to be awe-struck as you discover the massive golf-leaf rotunda. Completed in 1839, Georgia's Old Governor's Mansion is one of the finest examples of High Greek Revival architecture in the nation and served as the residence for Georgia's chief executives for over thirty years. This Georgia gem served as a political powerhouse where the complex social issues of the antebellum period including slavery and gender roles were played out and have since shaped our history. Its storied past also includes an overnight stay by General William T. Sherman as his troops entered Milledgeville during Sherman’s March to Sea during the American Civil War. The Mansion's tours are held Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am - 4 pm and Sunday, 2 am - 4 pm with tours at the top of the hour.
Renowned as one of America’s greatest short-story authors, Flannery O’ Connor was a visionary in the field of Southern gothic literature. Deriving inspiration from the land and people around her, Flannery’s most productive writing years were during her residence at Andalusia Farm in Milledgeville from 1951 - 1964. Andalusia was first settled in 1814 as a cotton plantation and farm until it was purchased in 1931 by Flannery’s uncle, Dr. Bernard Cline. While living in the Cline House in downtown Milledgeville, the farm served as a retreat where Flannery and her relatives could go to spend their free time out in the countryside. During O’Connor’s residency, the site contained 14 buildings with over 520 acres of land that were used for dairy and beef farming. Following a diagnosis of Lupus in 1951, Flannery moved to Andalusia to live under the care of her mother Regina Cline O’Connor. Following her death, the home remained in her family until 2003 when it was made into a museum and later gifted to her alma mater, Georgia College, in 2017. The museum’s mission is to care for, collect, interpret, and exhibit items that illustrate her life on the farm. Also, be sure to check out the Peacock exhibit where Flannery’s favorite birds reside! Andalusia is open for public tours Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 4 pm and Sunday, 2 am - 4 pm with tours at the top of the hour.
Sallie Ellis Davis House
One of Milledgeville’s hidden treasures, just steps away from Georgia’s Old Governor’s Mansion along Clarke Street, is the Sallie Ellis Davis House. In a time of great inequality, it was the home of an African American Educator and community leader in the early 1900s who worked to create equal educational opportunities for the African American community. Sallie Ellis Davis was one of the most hard-working and inspirational women in Milledgeville during the turn of the century and she continues to inspire people to this day. Her home was originally built in 1890 and additions to the house along with census reports and personal accounts show that Mrs. Davis made half of her home a boarding house for students. The Sallie Ellis Davis House is open for walk-up tours Tuesday - Friday, 1 - 4 p.m. and the first and third Saturday of each month from 1 - 4 p.m. If you would like to schedule a tour or an event outside of the times previously mentioned, please call the office at 478-445-4545.
Milledgeville's Ghost Tour
Throughout your day while strolling our oak-lined streets and towering columned facades, you may just feel a touch or chill. Many of Milledgeville's homes have a spooky and sinister past. Embark on the eerie ghost walking tour through downtown Milledgeville, hearing ghoulish stories about the ghosts that occupy the area. This tour is held twice a month on Saturdays and requires an advanced ticket purchase.
Central State Hospital
Since its founding in 1842, the Central State Hospital Campus (originally known as the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum) has been one of Milledgeville’s most well-known and intriguing sites. The site gained national recognition during the 1960s as the United States’ largest mental institution with over 12,000 patients, 6,000 employees, and more than 8,000 acres of land. Today, Central State Hospital serves over 200 existing patients and has downsized to roughly 2,000 acres of land. Take a self-guided driving tour that highlights the historic buildings of the campus and mentions important people from its past as well as the significance of certain periods in the Hospital's history. Be sure to park your car at Cedar Lane Cemetery, a restoration that began in 1997 to memorialize the patients. Unfortunately, over the years the original iron markers had been removed by groundskeepers and today 2,000 of the original iron markers have been placed side by side. An angel serves as a perpetual guardian over the unmarked graves.
For those interested in exploring more of the history of the former Central State Hospital campus, a guided trolley tour is your perfect chance. Board 'Milly' the trolley and set out on a guided driving tour through the grounds of Central State Hospital. Learn about the history of the institution as well as the redevelopment of the grounds from a former Central State employee and tour guide. Tours occur monthly.
Historic Walking Tour
Many come to Milledgeville with one thing on their mind: rich Georgia history, as she served as the capital of Georgia from 1803 to 1868. Get lost in the architectural grandeur when you take a leisurely stroll down oak-lined streets in downtown Milledgeville’s 10 blocks of the historic district. Founded in 1803 around a series of beautiful squares and wide streets, Milledgeville was designed to be a capital city. From homes to churches to college campuses, our Historic Walking Tour invites you into the past of over 40 well-preserved Federal-style buildings as well as other structures enhanced by noteworthy Greek Revival, Victorian and Classic Revival styles. Brochures are available for pick up at the Visitor's Center located at 200 West Hancock Street.
If you are visiting on a Saturday, you are in for a special treat. Although located about a mile from the historic district (you'll have to drive), Rose Hill, a Greek Revival home circa 1852 and the centerpiece of the Lockerly Arboretum, is open for self-guided tours on Saturday's between 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Originally designated as one of the four public squares of twenty acres in the Milledgeville town plan of 1803, it later came to be known as Cemetery Square. Many people associated with Milledgeville and Georgia history, such as Annie Abbott "the Little Georgia Magnet", Congressman Carl Vinson, and Flannery O'Connor, as well as early Georgia governors, legislators, college presidents, enslaved people and soldiers, are buried here. A self-guided walking tour begins at the gazebo at the front of the cemetery and follows numbered signs that correspond to the numbers in the brochure. There are 47 points of interest. The brochure is available for pick up at the entrance gazebo.
If you are dying to know more about Milledgeville, consider joining in our Memory Hill Cemetery Tour. This one-hour guided tour offered monthly of Milledgeville’s historic downtown cemetery will share the stories of a variety of Milledgeville’s most notable historical figures from soldiers to senators to scientists that have been laid to rest within the grounds.
Out of caution, please check individual attractions for safety protocols and procedures before visiting.