In 2017, Georgia College was gifted Andalusia Farms, the home of Flannery O’Connor, for use as a historic house museum. The Department of Historic Museums immediately set out to accomplish several goals for the best preservation and protection of the structures and artifacts within them, as well as the safety of visitors. The Director of Historic Museums at Georgia College, Matt Davis, shared that “the installation of this [fire suppression] system was one of the key goals we established upon the gift of the property.” Starting in December of 2019, skilled workers began the difficult process of installing a modern fire sprinkler system in a historic farmhouse.
While fire suppression systems seem like rather modern technology, the first electrical fire alarm system was invented and used in 1890 by Francis Robbins. It was not until the 1940s that fire alarm systems were utilized not only in factories but in urban homes. However, many rural farms, such as Andalusia, lacked any form of fire suppression or other monitoring systems when they were constructed. While there were fire stations in each county, often, these companies were made up of volunteers and could be miles away. It was up to the workers and residents of the property to extinguish the threat. Luckily, there are no records of fires ever occurring on the property.
Today, Andalusia’s use as a museum that serves the general public necessitated the installation of this system. For public safety, fire suppression is a vital component to ensure that our guests can enjoy learning about O’Connor in a safe environment. Additionally, as stewards of this remarkable collection, the system will aid in preventing the possibility of a total loss of significant objects were a fire to occur under our care.
While open flames are not allowed on the property, our staff remains aware of the potential of an accidental fire. The suppression system we have invested in works just as those within modern-day structures. When a certain temperature is reached, suggesting a fire, the sprinklers are activated, and the alarm activates. The difficulty surrounding the installation is to ensure adequate sprinkler coverage while protecting as much of the historic fabric of the building as possible. We have kept our guests informed during the installation of the ongoing construction and its importance. Not only does this system protect the integrity of the structure, but it also ensures the safety of our visitors. With the installation being finalized in these coming weeks, we at Andalusia are proud to safely share the story of Flannery O’Connor’s time at the farm to the general public once more.
 “The History of Fire Alarms,” Life Safety Consultants, June 13, 2017, https://www.lifesafetycom.com/the-history-of-fire-alarms/