ATLANTA (AP) — The final home of Flannery O'Connor is under new management but officials at the Georgia university taking over the middle Georgia dairy farm known as Andalusia plan to keep the property open for public visits.
O'Connor, a Savannah native, spent the last 13 years of her life on the Baldwin County farm where she raised dozens of peacocks and completed some of her best-known works, including the short story collection "A Good Man Is Hard To Find."
Since it opened to the public in 2003, O'Connor fans and scholars made trips to the 500-acre farm and the home where O'Connor lived with her mother, Regina, until the author's death in 1964.
But the Flannery O'Connor Andalusia Foundation, which depends entirely on donations, struggled to afford upkeep of the large property and didn't have the money to make other upgrades, such as a visitors' center separate from the house, said Donna Barwick, who leads the foundation's board.
So board members decided to gift the property to the foundation of Georgia College, which O'Connor attended when it was known as the Georgia State College for Women. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Georgia College President Steve Dorman said details of public tours and other programs still are being planned but said there's no doubt that the school will preserve public access.
"Flannery is a Georgia treasure and she's an American treasure," Dorman said. "To be able to share that with the public is really important."
The farm is a vivid example of O'Connor's skill at giving readers a "sense of place" in her Southern Gothic works, said Barwick, who's been a fan of the author since college.
"When you drive into that driveway from U.S. Highway 441 it's like you go back a century," she said. "You look around and realize that's the barn or the field where her stories took place. More so than any other writer I know about, the place is so important to interpretation of her work."
The school's foundation already oversees Georgia's Old Governor's Mansion on its Milledgeville campus, where students act as docents and lead tourists on tours of the High Greek Revival building used by governors until after the Civil War. Dorman said college officials hope to use a similar approach at O'Connor's home.