In the spirit of David Letterman, we decided that we would look back over the last year and share with you what we consider to be the ten most notable events and accomplishments at Andalusia for 2011. The following are listed in neither chronological order nor in order of importance:
1. Grants - in 2011 we received two significant grants to help us restore some of the buildings on the property. In February we were awarded a $120,000 grant from "Save America's Treasures" program of the National Park Service to restore the Hill house. This past fall we received a $10,000 matching grant from the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Council for the Arts to stabilize the cow barn.
2. Cartoon Book - In January Georgia College released The Cartoons of Flannery O'Connor at Georgia College. This was the first time an original O'Connor work has appeared in print since 1979. Later in the year, the ever-popular Sanford House Cookbook was re-published. Both books are available at the Andalusia gift shop.
3. 10th Anniversary - 2011 marked the tenth anniversary of the Flannery O'Connor- Andalusia Foundation. The event passed without cake, balloons, or a whole lot of hoopla. Yet it is a big milestone for us and a tribute to everyone who has generously supported Andalusia for the last decade.
4. Re-opening of upstairs - Just in time for Flannery's 86th birthday, the upstairs was thoroughly cleaned and straightened up so we could re-open it to the public on March 25th. Thanks to our volunteers for their hard work.
5. Flannery O'Connor Conference and reception - On April 13th, the symposium sponsored by Georgia College, Startling Figures: A Celebration of the Legacy of Flannery O'Connor, kicked off with a reception at Andalusia. During the three days of the conference our gift shop did a robust business.
6. Restoration of Hill House - Much of the year was spent prepping the Hill house for the restoration work that will commence in early 2012. There were numerous meetings with the architects at Lord, Aeck and Sargent. Additionally, all the furniture and belongings in the house had to be cataloged, removed, and put in temporary storage PODS in the barnyard.
7. Ann Napolitano reading - On July 13th, surely the hottest day of a long hot summer, Ann Napolitano visited Andalusia to read from her just-published novel, A Good Hard Look. Though the book and reading sparked some controversy (especially among locals), it has been highly acclaimed in the national media and Ms. Napolitano couldn't have been more gracious.
8. Guineas - On Sept. 29th we acquired five guinea fowl from a generous donor. In preparation for their arrival we built a temporary holding pen behind the aviary. Sadly, after we released them from the pen, they were preyed upon and by mid-December they were all gone.
9. Loyola Conference - In October there was another O'Connor conference. This one at Loyola University in Chicago focused on the theological and philosophical influences in O'Connor's fiction. Craig and I were privileged to represent Andalusia. Besides enjoying all that Chicago has to offer, we heard some fascinating presentations. Who ever thought Flannery could be read from a Zen Buddhist perspective?
10. Attendance record - Last, but certainly not least, as we closed out our fiscal year on Sept. 30th we set a record for number of visitors in a year. For the first time since Andalusia has been open to the public, we surpassed the 5,000 mark. We thank all of you who visited the farm and made 2011 the most successful in our history!