Andalusia could use the notable writer platform and natural setting to help local literacy.
O’Connor recently brought a group from Baghdad to Milledgeville. Captivating people enough to generate multiple trips back is a challenge.
“People come from all over the world to see Flannery O’Connor’s Andalusia. They come to Milledgeville, spend money and they check it off their bucket list,” Wylie said. “Of course you value and want to keep promoting that, but you also need to ensure that you have repeat visitation. That’s where activating the site, collaboration and partnerships with local folks comes into play.”
Wylie succeeds Craig Amason, who became the inaugural executive director in 2002 charged with watchdog status over the farmland, numerous decrepit outbuildings, a weary farmhouse and the towering reputation of Flannery O’Connor.
During his tenure, Amason raised $1.5 million from foundations and legions of individual donors.
He and part-time helper Mark Jurgensen oversaw restoration of the iris beds, the pond, the water tower, the pump house, the milk-processing shed, and most recently the Hill house, with the cow barn currently in process.
“He’s a hero and had done a great job,” Wylie said. “I really appreciate everything he’s done. Craig has set us up nicely.”
The Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation is dedicated to the restoration, preservation and appreciation of Andalusia, the final home of Flannery O’Connor, to perpetuate her place in the roster of great writers of the 20th century, according to Andalusia’s website.
The new caretaker said the property remains a living and breathing place.
“Andalusia is alive and well,” Wylie said. “It’s evolving and adapting. My job is to build on all the good work (Amason) has done.”
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