Andalusia is a landscape patched with blades of lush green grass and dense forests. A long dirt-road driveway winds its way up from highway 441 to the main house. The home in which Flannery O’Connor resided for her last thirteen years of life is painted white with black shutters and a red roof. It is two stories of living space, with a comfortable – very southern – screened-in front porch.
Visitors today en-route to the gift shop, located in the rear of the home, pass by thick nests of trees, a small cow pasture that leads down to a quaint pond, and several barn structures. The thought may cross your mind, what it was like while Flannery was on the homestead? Things have changed, but the man that started it all, Dr. Bernard McHugh Cline, left a lively footprint on the property.
Dr. Bernard Cline was an eye, ear-nose-and-throat doctor in Atlanta, but he grew up in Milledgeville, Georgia. Born December 18, 1881, Bernard was one of sixteen Cline siblings, elder brother to Regina Cline O’Connor, Flannery’s mother. Although he prospered in his medical career in the big capital city of Atlanta, his roots were in Milledgeville, and it was a place he longed to return. On October 7, 1931, he bought the first parcel of what would become the Andalusia property from the McCraw family. When Dr. Cline purchased Andalusia, the main house and Hill House were already part of the farm, as both structures were built in the 19th Century by two separate owners. Built in 1850, by Joseph Stovall, the main house would soon be added on to by Dr. Cline in 1932. This first addition to the home included what would become Regina O’Connor’s bedroom and sewing room, as well as her office space and kitchen. The second addition applied to the home in 1958, by younger brother Louis Cline, included a parlor, bedroom, and bath for a suite of rooms to call his own.
The original name, Andalusia, was changed by Dr. Bernard to Sorrel Farm, for the brown color of his many horses. The name, Andalusia, would be restored after his passing in 1947. He used the land as a hunting retreat, a place to ride his horses, but ultimately turned it into a dairy and beef operation. He would have parties and gatherings on his property, once entertaining up to seventy-eight guests at a time. His farmland, which stretched for 550 acres, was occupied by over forty free-range birds, cows, and horses. Similar to his niece, Dr. Cline had a soft spot for winged creatures, and encouraged Flannery’s fondness of birds. One of Dr. Cline’s many social contributions was to underprivileged children, actively working in Atlanta area children’s homes as well as having them visit his farm and ride his horses. This doting man turned the property that was once a cotton plantation, ripped apart by General Sherman, into a beautiful landscape for animals and people to enjoy and also gave our author a source of inspiration.
Unknown. “From Prosperous Plantation to Literary Landscape: A Brief History of Flannery O’Connor’s Andalusia.” Pp. 6.
Bernard Cline, “The Federal Land Bank of Columbia. Abstract of Title.” Land Deed. Milledgeville, Ga. Baldwin Co. 1931.
Unknown. “Bernard Cline.” Article. Pp 2. August 30, 2002.
Unknown. “Bernard Cline.” Article. Pp. 3. August 30, 2002.
The Atlanta Constitution. “Dr. Cline, 65, Eye and Ear Expert, Dies.” News Article. Monday, Jan. 27, 1947.