According to a recent article in the New York Times, the Baltimore home where author Edgar Allan Poe lived from 1833 to 1835 is in peril. The house museum sits in the middle of a housing project far off the usual tourist path. Due to budget cuts, the city last year completely eliminated financial support. Since then, the Poe house has been operating on reserve funds which are projected to dry up by early next summer. The city of Baltimore has hired consultants to help the Poe house come up with a business plan to make the museum financially self-sufficient. Ideas on the table include updating exhibits to attract more visitors (the Poe house and museum currently gets about 5,000 visitors per year). What does all this have to do with Flannery O'Connor and Andalusia? A lot! For one thing, Edgar Allan Poe was such a huge influence on O'Connor. It is truly heartbreaking to contemplate the possible closure of his home. God forbid that we might face a similar dilemma at Andalusia. And yet, one cannot help but be concerned because of the similarities between the two writers' residences. Like Poe's home, Andalusia sits well off the beaten track, perhaps even more so, and we get about the same number of visitors per year as they do. Fortunately, we are not reliant upon government funding to stay afloat and have so far managed to weather the tough economic downturn of the last three years through the generosity of our Friends.
It is imperative, however, that we expand this base of support if we are to remain viable in the future. Unlike Poe's home in Baltimore (or that of practically any other author you can think of ), Andalusia presents us with a unique set of challenges. Not only do we have the main house where the author lived to preserve, but all the other structures that sit on this 544 acre tract as well, some of which will collapse if more funding cannot be procured to restore them. And it is vital that we do so because Andalusia is a very special place. Not only was it where Flannery O'Connor lived and wrote, but it was the very source of her inspiration. This farm and daily life out hereso fueled O'Connor's imagination that it is impossible to read a great number of her stories and not picture Andalusia. Your continued financial support of our work is vital if we are to preserve this major literary landmark for future generations.