With the reopening of Andalusia and a cool breeze flowing off the Oconee River, Milledgeville, Georgia, has something for everyone in summertime.
Affectionately referred to as “Milly,” Milledgeville, Georgia, is the perfect historical and literary summer destination. Founded in 1803, Milledgeville was designed to emulate certain structural elements of southern Savannah and northern Washington, D.C., creating something of an architectural melting pot. Milledgeville served as the capital of Georgia from 1804 until 1868, at which point the state capitol was relocated to Atlanta. Today, Milly is a bustling city with a small-town feel that so inspired writer Flannery O’Connor and offers plenty of opportunities for touring aboard the city’s historic trolley.
Andalusia: A Gateway to O’Connor
Nearly a year after doors closed for renovations, Andalusia is once again open to the public.
The home of famed author Flannery O’Connor, Andalusia came under the possession of O’Connor’s uncle in 1931. The Andalusia plot remained in the family well after O’Connor’s passing, until it was given to a private foundation to serve as a museum in 2003. In August, 2017, Andalusia was gifted to Georgia College—O’Connor’s alma mater—and was promptly closed down to begin work on restoring the estate. The renovations that have taken place over the last year include a “full-house interpretation and overall improvements to the grounds,” according to Matthew S. Davis, Georgia College’s director of historic museums—though these improvements are only the first of a long list of planned renovations. The transformation Andalusia will continue to undergo in coming years will help to preserve the facility’s history through collecting and exhibiting artifacts of the time. As for the farm’s resident peacocks, Mrs. Shortley and Astor are welcoming visitors this summer.
O’Connor graduated Georgia College (previously Georgia State College for Women) in 1945. In 1951, she moved to Andalusia after being diagnosed with lupus, where she lived with her mother until her death in 1964. Prior to O’Connor’s time at Andalusia, the 520-acre plot of land housed 14 buildings, farms primed for the production of dairy and beef, and a cotton plantation. The influence of the land is apparent in much of O’Connor’s work, which was primarily written during her time at Andalusia.
IF YOU GO: Andalusia is open to the public Tuesdays-Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Sundays between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.. Tours last an hour, with the last tour beginning at 4 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults (with a $1 discount for groups that book in advance), $6 for senior citizens and $2 for students with a valid ID. Children under six years of age are free.
It is a common-held belief that the best way to view Milly is via a Trolley Tour. Milledgeville offers a rotating tour option, wherein visitors can view several of Milledgeville’s most notable historic landmarks, including the Old State Capitol (pictured right), the St. Stephens Episcopal Church, Rose Hill at Lockerly Arboretum (pictured at top) and the Brown-Stetson-Sanford House.
For those who wish to examine Milledgeville’s Old Governor’s Mansion, several on-foot tour options are available. Regular tours allow guests to stroll through this national historic landmark, which is furnished in period-specific antiques. Visitors can experience art, history and architecture through a thorough exploration of this mansion. For those seeking more in-depth information on the Old Governor’s Mansion, the Collection’s Tour may be an ideal alternative. The mansion curator hosts this tour and provides deeper discussion of the structure’s historic collections. The Curator’s Tour is a third tour option, customized for those who are more interested in the restoration of the Old Governor’s Mansion.
For those invested in culture over architecture, the “Labor Behind the Veil” tour offers a historically documented account of the mansion, keeping in mind the working lives of the men and women who maintained and lived upon the property’s grounds. This tour is exclusive in that it provides insight into the lives of both free and enslaved individuals by presenting historic ledgers, records and documents to the tour guests, creating a conversation focused on the politics, race and sex of the Antebellum South.
IF YOU GO: Depending on the tour you intend to take, pricing and times may vary. Information can be found here.
Keep Cool Outdoors
Milledgeville is a city densely populated by wilderness, with a variety of outdoor locations to explore.
Bartram Forest is a preserved woodland intersected by three trails that was first inhabited by Native Americans in the 1600s. These trails are perfect for walking, running or biking. Centuries have molded the land of Bartram Forest to include features such as wetlands, woodlands and an authentic ravine that was carved out by a shallow sea that covered Georgia millions of years ago. Bartram Forest also hosts an area specific for hunting opportunities.
The Lockerly Arboretum was founded in 1965 and hosts 50 acres of natural greenery, including shrubs, trees, conifers, camellias and rhododendrons. Greenhouses populate the area and are used as educational centers; one of these greenhouses was expanded recently to include a tropical plant life exhibit. The focus piece of the Lockerly Arboretum is Rose Hill, a Greek Revival-style house built in 1852, named for the Cherokee roses that grew onsite. Visitors can walk the trails, watch wildlife, picnic and explore Rose Hill.
The Oconee River Greenway Park and Riverwalk offers trails, paths and boardwalks alongside the Oconee River. Fishing stations and boat ramps are also available. The river is navigable by canoe or kayak, and the undeveloped shoreline offers an opportunity for wildlife spotting. The adjacent Greenway offers guests the chance to view an 1892 grist mill that was converted to a hydro-electric plant in the 1900s, as well as the remnants of islands.
Nearby, at Lake Sinclair, fishing, boating and swimming are viable summer activity options. Several marina locations are available to allow visitors to fuel their boats, as well as provide lunch options. Guests can rent paddleboards, jet skis, or pontoons. Campsites are accessible for those who wish to stay for more than just an afternoon.
IF YOU GO: Information on hours and pricing for any outdoor activities can be found here.
Milly is welcoming visitors all summer, but the Fourth of July is an especially exciting time to visit. On July 3, fireworks will launch from Central Georgia Technical College at dark. Suggested viewing locations include Walter B. Williams Park, the parking lot at the Board of Education building or the banks of Lake Sinclair. Set up a picnic, pop some champagne, and enjoy the lights over Milly.
Photos courtesy of Milledgeville-Baldwin CVB.