This was beloved author Alice Walker’s home during much of her childhood. Her parents worked the farm and she drew inspiration from all around.
In its secluded setting, the Bowers House is difficult to capture, but that’s the point. It’s been put into service as a literary retreat, an effort by its owner, Ellen Bowers Davenport, to keep the house in the family while providing writers a quiet creative space. It was built as the Canon Hotel during what could be called the town’s boom time, when the railroad kept the mills running and cotton was king. Traders and salesmen were regulars but the property failed in the Great Depression in a region already ravaged by the deleterious effects of the boll weevil. Ms. Davenport’s grandparents purchased and converted it into a private home thereafter.
Canon Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
After being diagnosed with lupus in 1951, famed American author Flannery O’Connor came to Andalusia to be cared for by her widowed mother, Regina Cline O’Connor. [While a student at Georgia College, I lived on the top floor of Ennis Hall for a year. It was located around the corner from the then derelict Cline-O’Connor mansion where Regina lived out her last days. One of my most vivid memories was seeing Mrs. O’Connor through a window in silhouette. She was a very private person.] Most of Flannery’s best-known work was written here. The property that became Andalusia was first occupied as a cotton plantation in 1814. The main house, seen above, was built in the 1850s. It was purchased by Flannery’s uncle, Dr. Bernard Cline, in 1931. During the Cline and O’Connor residencies, the 500+ acre property served as a working dairy and beef cattle farm. After Flannery’s death in 1964, the farm remained with the family until 2003, when it was donated to a private group for preservation. It was gifted to Georgia College in 2017, which now operates it as an historic house museum focused on interpreting the time Ms. O’Connor spent at the property.
Dr. Cline added the screened-in front porch during the 1930s.
The interior remains largely the same as it was during Flannery O’Connor’s residency here. Georgia College is doing an excellent job not only of preserving but interpreting these items in proper context.
The dining room doubled as a parlor and is the most visually interesting space in the house.
The stairwell is the most impressive feature of the foyer, though the upstairs rooms are not accessible to the public. They were used only for guests of the O’Connor family and storage.
Portraits of Dr. Bernard Cline (l) and Edward F. O’Connor
Portrait of Flannery O’Connor
Flannery’s bedroom is a large space at the western front of the house. Braces, which she needed to get around as her lupus became more debilitating, are a stark reminder of the pain Flannery often endured.
Flannery spent many hours convalescing in this small bed.
The well house was built over a hand-dug brick-lined well. The farm was electrified in the 1940s and Regina had the water tower built in 1956. It’s 32 feet high and holds 22,000 gallons.
Dependencies of Andalusia
Away from the main house are numerous outbuildings which contributed to the productivity of the farm. They’re presently in various states of preservation, with eventual restoration the goal of Georgia College.
The most prominent structure, now located just northwest of the main house, is thought to be the original house of the plantation which became Andalusia. It was located nearer the main house but was moved to its present location in the late 1940s or 1950s. Several smaller tenant houses are located south of the main house but are in ruins or terrible condition. I did not photograph them.
Robert Jack & Louise Hill, who were tenant farmers during most of Flannery O’Connor’s time at Andalusia, lived here. [Photo Courtesy Andalusia].
A dairy was established at Andalusia in 1947 by Regina and brother Louis Cline. The barn figures centrally in Flannery O’Connor’s beloved 1955 story, “Good Country People”.
Andalusia’s milk was processed offsite in Eatonton. This shed, likely built in the late 1940s, kept it cool until transport and was also used to sterilize the cans.
The calf barn was used to segregate male calves from their mothers so they could be fed powdered milk.
Regina and Louis began modernizing the farm by the early 1950s and this equipment shed allowed easy accessibility for tractors, bush hogs, and all manner of tools.
This barn sheltered the farm’s riding and working horses. On Mother’s Day 1962, Flannery gave Regina a Mexican burro named Ernest. A female Sicilian donkey, a jenny named Marquita, was later added to the farm. In September 1963, Ernest and Marquita had a foal Regina named Equinox. In the early 1970s, Marquita mated with a pony and gave birth to a hinny named Flossie. A hinny is the offspring of a horse and a jenny. Equinox and Flossie were companions until Equinox died in 1998. Flossie lived out her days at Andalusia until her death in 2010, becoming a bit of a celebrity herself with visitors and journalists who covered the property.
Though it looks old, the pump house is among the newest structures at Andalusia.
Just to the rear of the main house was a three-bay parking garage known as the Nail House. It became home to most of Flannery’s birds, including ducks, turkeys, geese, pheasants, and her beloved peafowl. Her first pair came from a breeder in Florida in 1952, and she would eventually have more than 40.
An aviary is presently sited to the east of the main house.
Of course, peafowl are kept on the property today. This pair was quite shy, though.
Grounds of Andalusia
Situated north of the Fall Line, Andalusia is characterized by rolling hills and beautiful hardwoods.
A tree-lined driveway leads to the main house.
A large hay pasture is located just to your left as you’re driving in. It’s a beautiful space which I remember admiring from US Highway 441 in my college days.
The view in front of the main house follows a gently sloping pasture to a secluded pond.
National Register of Historic Places
John H. Churchwell built this house circa 1904-1905. A model was featured at the Louisiana Purchase Exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1903; Churchwell purchased the columns from the model and had them shipped to Cordele.
Other owners of the house through the years have been the Ryals, Hodges, and Durham families, but it will be forever remembered for its most famous owner, Mac Hyman. The Cordele native was the author of No Time for Sergeants (1954), the bestselling book which spawned Broadway, television and movie versions and launched the career of Andy Griffith. Hyman was working on his second book, Take Now Thy Son at the time of his death in 1963. He was a month shy of his 40th birthday. Take Now Thy Son was published posthumously, in 1965.
Thanks to Ross Hamilton for the identification.
O’Neal School Neighborhood Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Constructed from derelict slave cabins, the Uncle Remus Museum opened in Eatonton in 1963. Its location, Turner Park, was the boyhood homeplace of Joseph Sidney Turner, the inspiration for the “little boy” to whom “Uncle Remus” relayed all his critter stories in Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings (1880) and later works. Turner’s father, Joseph Addison Turner, owned Turnwold Plantation where Harris apprenticed as a teenager during the Civil War. A reconstructed blacksmith shop is also located in the park.
Carvings of many of the animal characters populate the grounds, which are a delight to walk around. I’m not sure who did all of these wonderful wood sculptures, but they’re a wonderful addition to the property. And forgive me if I confuse Bre’r Fox and Bre’r Wolf!
And last, but certainly not least, Bre’r Rabbit.
Moved from its original location outside Moreland, this house was the birthplace of Erskine Caldwell. [Caldwell’s father was the minister of the local Presbyterian congregation and this house was the parsonage, hence its nickname, “The Little Manse”]. Caldwell published numerous bestsellers but is best remembered for Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre.
When I was a teenager I had the honor of meeting Erskine Caldwell and interviewing him for my high school newspaper when he did a symposium at the Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Library. I was in 10th grade and Mr. Caldwell (1903-1987) was near the end of his life. What I most remember from my interview is that he was not a fan of critics and wasn’t interested in discussing symbolism in his work. He said it was the result of observation and the work spoke for itself.
The house and community are on the Southern Literary Trail.
Edward Baker Mell was the author of Reminisces of Athens, Georgia: About 1880 to 1900. It’s unclear who the original owner was, but Mell moved here around 1889.
Cobbham Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Though largely forgotten today, Caroline Miller (1903-1992) was once a best-selling author. Her novel Lamb in His Bosom, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1933, was critically acclaimed as one of the best first works of the Southern Renaissance. Miller was also the first Georgian to be so honored.
Born in Waycross to Elias and Levy Zan Hall Pafford, Caroline married her English teacher, William D. Miller, soon after graduating from high school. They moved to Baxley soon thereafter. While raising three boys in this rental house, Miller wrote short stories in her spare time. Aiming for authentic regional dialect and material, she ventured out into the surrounding countryside and talked with many old-timers, documenting the idiomatic speech and folkways of the Wiregrass region, which she would later incorporate into Lamb in His Bosom. As it depicted poor whites who didn’t own slaves, it was a departure from the romantic South of literature. It is widely regarded as one of the best available sources for this largely overlooked culture today. Margaret Mitchell even considered it her favorite novel about the South.
The Millers divorced in 1936 and Caroline married Clyde H. Ray, Jr., in 1937. The couple moved to Waynesville, North Carolina, where Caroline gave birth to two more children. In 1944 she published her second novel, Lebanon, which didn’t receive the praise or success afforded Lamb in His Bosom. Though she would continue to write prolifically, she chose not publish later manuscripts, largely to avoid the attention and scrutiny of the critics. She died in North Carolina in 1992.
Built circa 1840 by Larkin Griffin, founder and namesake of Griffin, Georgia, this was the birthplace of poet, flautist, and Confederate signal corpsman Sidney Clopton Lanier on 3 February 1842. His grandparents, Sterling and Sarah Lanier were living here at the time of his birth. Sidney’s father, Robert Lanier, was a friend of the Griffins and had a law practice in Griffin. He and his wife, Mary Jane Anderson Lanier, were in Macon for Sidney’s birth because of the availability of medical facilities. The house was moved from a nearby lot to its present location around 1879 and the front porch was added. It was remodeled again in the early 1900s. Today, the Sidney Lanier Cottage is owned and operated as a museum and event space by the Historic Macon Foundation.
In his time, Lanier was Georgia’s most renowned literary figure, penning the famed poems “The Marshes of Glynn” and “Song of the Chattahoochee”. He was also a well-respected musician, serving as first chair flute with Baltimore’s Peabody Symphony Orchestra for seven seasons and composing a cantata for the American centennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1876.
National Register of Historic Places
The 300th block of 2nd Street is quite colorful. The blue building on the right has Vitrolite panels on the lower floor. This was most commonly found on jewelry stores and theatres in the mid-20th century, though I don’t know what this building housed.
In this same block is the restaurant, Tzango at Laniers, which has great windows honoring the poet (and flautist) Sidney Lanier, who practiced law in this structure with his father Robert S. Lanier and his uncle Clifford Anderson, from 1868-1872.
Macon Historic District, National Register of Historic Places