Andalusia is located in Baldwin County, Georgia, about four miles northwest of Milledgeville, on the west side of U.S. Highway 441. Rolling hills, red clay, pine trees, and hardwoods characterize this part of the state. Native Americans inhabited this region for at least 12,000 years, leaving behind an impressive array of earthen mounds, pottery, tools, weapons, and place names. In fact, several major trading paths converged at a site near Milledgeville. When the city was surveyed in 1803, it was on the very edge of the Georgia frontier.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980, Andalusia has been brought to life by descriptions in the letters of Flannery O’Connor, collected and published in the book The Habit of Being. The wooded areas of the property have been largely untouched for many decades, giving them a remarkably pristine appearance, even though Andalusia is located adjacent to a rapidly developing commercial district. While the oldest existing structures at Andalusia only date back to the early nineteenth century, local historical records and physical evidence on this elevated property suggest much earlier occupation.
The farm was purchased in the early 1930s by Flannery O’Connor’s uncle, Bernard Cline. Dr. Cline was a prominent physician in Atlanta and initially bought the farm as a weekend getaway as well as a place where he could raise horses and entertain. He hired workers to operate the farm and came down to Milledgeville on weekends. He also began to buy other wooded tracts to the north of the farm, specifically the Hall-Kenan property. In the early 1940s he sent his sister—Flannery O’Connor’s mother, Regina—to Atlanta to train her to become the bookkeeper for the farm.
Dr. Cline had named the property Sorrel Farm, because of the sorrel-colored horses he kept there. On a bus to Atlanta in the fall of 1946, Flannery O’Connor met a descendant of the original Hawkins family that had owned Andalusia. He told her that the original name of the farm in the nineteenth century had been Andalusia. She wrote her mother, and when her uncle Bernard heard of it, he was pleased and liked the name. From then on, the farm was called Andalusia. When Bernard Cline died in 1947, he left the farm in joint ownership to his sister Regina and one of his brothers, Louis Cline, a hardware salesman who also worked out of Atlanta.
A year after they inherited the estate, they began expanding the farm operation and established 200 acres of pasture, several hay fields, and livestock ponds. The rest of the property was kept in woodlands for selective timbering. Because Louis Cline continued to work in Atlanta and came to Milledgeville mostly on the weekends, the management of the farm was primarily left in Mrs. O’Connor’s hands, with tenant help and hired labor. She was very successful with the farm. As a widow managing a sizeable dairy in the 1950s, she acquired distinction as a businesswoman.
Louis Cline had a substantial income and was largely responsible for providing the farm’s supplies and equipment. In the very late 1950s, he added a small suite of rooms on the north corner of the main house, giving him a place to stay when he came down from Atlanta. The sitting room portion of this addition became the place where Flannery put her beautiful tall bookcases.
In the early 1960s, when farm labor problems were becoming serious, Regina O’Connor decided to get out of the dairy business and converted Andalusia to a beef cattle farm. But after Flannery died in 1964, Mrs. O’Connor soon moved back to the Cline family house in town on Greene Street and turned the daily management of the cattle over to a series of caretakers. When the cattle were gone, many of Flannery’s swans, geese, and ducks remained at Andalusia along with the peacocks. None of the descendants of O’Connor’s domestic flocks has survived, at least not at the farm. After Louis Cline died in 1973, Regina Cline O’Connor became the sole owner of the farm.
In 2001, Flannery’s first cousins Margaret Florencourt Mann and Louise Florencourt established The Flannery O’Connor – Andalusia Foundation, subsequently enabling public access to Andalusia beginning in 2003.