Founded in 1985 as the Sandy Springs Historic Community Foundation Inc., the mission of Heritage Sandy Springs (HSS) is to promote history, steward a community park, and enhance the cultural identity of Sandy Springs. Prior to the city’s incorporation in December 2005, HSS leaders worked tirelessly to create and promote a true sense of community identity in the physical “center” of the Sandy Springs area. Heritage Sandy Springs and the surrounding Sandy Springs Historic Site and Park, located one-half mile from 285 and two blocks off Roswell Road, truly represent the “heart” of the new City of Sandy Springs.
As part of our mission, Heritage Sandy Springs is committed to providing community educational and heritage programs, cultural enrichment activities and special events such as the annual Sandy Springs Festival, Concerts by the Springs and Heritage Winter Classics. Heritage Sandy Springs also oversees and maintains the Heritage Green parksite which houses the Heritage Sandy Springs administrative offices, meeting rooms, walking trails and landscaped gardens on a four-acre site. Other site features include:
- Five fresh-water springs for which the community is named – the original springs
- Heritage Sandy Springs Museum at the Williams Payne House
- Period gardens designed, cultivated and maintained by the staff Horticulturist and North Fulton Master Gardeners
- Burdett Milk House, the oldest known unaltered structure in Sandy Springs
- Privy and a well shelter
- The Sandy Springs Society Entertainment Lawn
- The Bluestone Building and Heritage Hall
Heritage Sandy Springs recently completed a major capital project to expand its facilities and green space to almost double its present size in the “heart” of Sandy Springs. A terraced entertainment lawn for performances and programs was completed in 2007. In 2008, the top floor of a vacant building adjacent to the site was renovated to house offices for the Heritage Sandy Springs staff, visitor information for the City of Sandy Springs, meeting spaces for area nonprofits and the Heritage Sandy Springs archive and research library. Construction continued in 2011 to finish the build-out of the lower level of the Bluestone Building to create Heritage Hall, a large meeting space with catering kitchen and a wrap around veranda overlooking the Entertainment Lawn. The Garden Room and Grounds are currently available for rental for weddings and other special occasions and the new Heritage Hall will provide additional meeting space for many other civic, social and educational programs and events.
The creation of the organization was the result of a community effort in 1984 to prevent re-zoning of the property from residential to commercial use and to preserve the site of the springs. When the rezoning effort failed, Fulton County bought the land, and Heritage Sandy Springs was designated to oversee and manage the Sandy Springs Historic Site. At a similar point in time, the Williams-Payne House, one of the oldest houses in the community, was in imminent threat of commercial development. Built by farmer Walter Jerome Williams in 1869, the house was purchased by Major and Marie Payne in 1938. The Portman-Berry Group acquired the house and its property for development in 1984, located along Mount Vernon Highway from Highway 400 to Peachtree Dunwoody. The Sandy Springs Garden Club approached the investors to request the house to be given as the home for the Fulton County Federation of Garden Clubs. Fulton County accepted the house and agreed that it be moved to the Sandy Springs Historic Site in 1986. Opened to the public in 1990, the house was painstakingly restored and in 2009, completely renovated with museum gallery spaces to interpret the history of Sandy Springs.
Through the cooperation of a public-private partnership, the springs, the Williams-Payne House and the surrounding green space were preserved and a “sense of place” was created for Sandy Springs. Today, the Williams-Payne House overlooks a meadow where the springs have been protected from development and still bubble with cool, clear water. Heritage Green continues to play an important social and symbolic role in the community and serves as a staging area for the activities of the organization.