A walk through Heritage Sandy Springs Museum and Park is a walk through the history of Sandy Springs itself. Inside and outside, this Museum and Park holds the gems of a community spirit and continues to deliver today what will be tomorrow’s heritage for all Sandy Springs residents.
This historic land came to be in 1984, because of the need to save the namesake of the Sandy Springs community – the original springs of Sandy Springs. The springs are a point where five fresh-water springs meet, flowing year-round at a rate of 10-gallons of water per minute and a temperature of 58 degrees. The property where the springs sit was privately owned, and in 1983 was about to be sold to developers, who would have backfilled the springs and ruined it for future generations. In stepped many individuals and groups and a movement was born. Fulton County contributed $300,000 towards the property purchase, but that left $233,000 to be raised by the community. The community successfully raised the money and the group decided to do more.
In 1985, the Williams-Payne house was added to the property. Now known as the Heritage Sandy Springs Museum, the Williams-Payne House, named for the Williams family who built the house and farmed the land from the late 1860s until 1939, at which time the Payne family purchased the home. Originally located on the present-day corner of Mount Vernon Highway and Georgia 400, the house was moved to Heritage Sandy Springs Museum site in October 1985.
From 1989 to 2009, the house operated as a historic house museum, reflecting life in rural Sandy Springs in the 1860s. In 2009, the house was converted to a history museum with changing exhibits that reflect the history and culture of Sandy Springs. Further renovations were completed in 2018, with five galleries dedicated to sharing the history, art, culture, and the heritage of our community.
In front of Heritage Sandy Springs Museum is the Well Shelter. This shelter was used by the original Williams family and also dates back to the 1860s. After purchasing the home in 1936, the Payne family added electricity and indoor plumbing to the home, but kept the well shelter intact.
Strolling along the property in back of the Museum is a small outbuilding called the Burdett Milk House, thought to be one of the oldest known structures in Sandy Springs, dating back to 1860. It was donated in 1988, and moved from a farm on the southwest corner of Mount Paran Road and Lake Forrest Drive to HSSMP. The Milk House is 10 by 15 feet with a rock wall cellar to keep vegetables and perishables safe from the summer heat.
In addition to the historic prizes of the property, there is much beauty to be found in the plants, flowers and gardens donated and maintained by local garden clubs and community volunteers.
“Sandy Springs has been a city for 13 years, but it’s been a community since 1851,” says Keith Moore, Director of Curatorial & Educational Affairs. “At Heritage Sandy Springs Museum and Park our mission is to keep our history alive – to preserve the heritage of our community and to be a resource for everyone to get to know the story of Sandy Springs.”
Today, people from all over come to Heritage Sandy Springs Museum and Park’s four-acres to enjoy its history, events, and outreach. There are museum exhibits, museum and park tours, educational programs for kids and adults, weddings and events held all over the property, free concerts, farmers market, and a yearly festival. HeritageSandySprings.org.