Because of extraordinary insight and effort, the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home has emerged as a dynamic bridge between past and present, history and literature, museum and meeting place. We acknowledge the six individuals who provided the foundation upon which we gratefully build: Bob and Helen Strozier, Hugh and Gillian Brown, and Bob and Mary Burnett.
In the spring of 1989, Armstrong Atlantic Professor Bob Strozier received a call from realtor Peggy Gunn. 207 E Charlton Street, she informed him, was on the market. The home should be preserved, she advised, because Flannery O'Connor had spent her childhood there. Could Armstrong help? Immediately on board, Strozier called Armstrong President, Bob Burnett. Sharing Strozier's enthusiasm, he thought that a private foundation might be best suited to the project. Armstrong Professor Hugh Brown soon joined the effort alongside them.
The undertaking might well have seemed implausible; the purchase and maintenance of an historic home was expensive after all. Although restoration of Savannah's Historic Landmark District was underway, the area was not as popular a tourist destination as today. And, while Flannery O'Connor enjoyed great literary acclaim, it was not obvious that her childhood home would have broad enough appeal to sustain a museum.
Despite these concerns, the three men spent their own time and financial resources to arrange a down payment and an affordable mortgage. WTOC's Randy Peltier conducted a live radio broadcast that raised tens of thousands of dollars in a single day. They successfully secured a loan. A foundation was formed to make the purchase. And on August 1st, 1989, the implausible became reality--the deal was closed.
The Home's early missives reflect both the enormity of these efforts and the good humor with which they were approached. "If this letter sounds upbeat," warned the 1991 newsletter, "remember it reflects our hopes rather than our finances." The 1994 newsletter reported, "We are now in our sixth year, which is about six times as long as a lot of people thought we would last."
The three couples worked diligently to operate the Home as a house museum and literary center. They opened the Home to the public as often as possible, offering an ambitious schedule of annual lectures and readings, free of charge. They developed a "wish list" through which they secured donations of furnishings that had been in the Home during the O'Connor's residence. They conducted and recorded interviews with Savannahians who remembered growing up with Flannery. They attracted dedicated volunteers and generous supporters who have enabled the Home to flourish.
It is the honor of the current staff to continue the founders' efforts in maintaining Flannery O'Connor's Childhood Home and legacy.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home Foundation & Museum is grateful for all support. Any donation amount you are able to give will go directly toward keeping our doors open and continuing the legacy of Flannery O'Connor. We are so thankful to be able to do this work because of supporters like you.
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