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December 2, 2013

Andalusia cow barn receives much-needed stabilization, renovation

MILLEDGEVILLE — The real-life model for one of the most famous barns in American literature is sporting a new roof, thanks to several grants and generous individual donations.

The cow barn on the grounds of Andalusia Farm, the final home of author Flannery O’Connor, was the inspiration for the barn in her revered short story, “Good Country People.” In the story, a Bible salesman seduces the character who calls herself “Hulga” in the barn’s hayloft and steals her wooden leg.

“You can’t look at this barn and not think of the story,” said Craig Amason, former executive director of the Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation. “This is more than just a place where an author penned her fiction, more so than what you find at other literary landmarks.”

In 2008, an article in Oprah Winfrey’s interior design magazine, O At Home, published an article featuring five American authors and places that inspired them, including O’Connor and the cow barn. Visitors to Andalusia can see the bedroom where O’Connor wrote in the farmhouse and walk around the rolling hills, hayfields, pasture, natural ponds and forest that inspired her. O’Connor died in 1964 from lupus.

With a grant from the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, the restoration project cleared the Andalusia Foundation’s goal for necessary repairs, and the roof restoration began on Nov. 6, 2013. The grant came at an opportune time for the barn roof as it was on the verge of collapsing. Other grants and gifts came from the E.J. Grassmann Trust, the Watson-Brown Junior Board of Milledgeville, and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Four individuals also made donations.

The repairs focused on stabilizing the roof by replacing eroded metal and supporting areas of decaying wood. The barn maintenance is part of a larger restoration effort by the Foundation.

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