By Amy Wenk

Peek into the city’s past as you enjoy the present.

At the 24th annual Sandy Springs Festival Sept. 26 and 27, attendees can preview a new exhibit called “Sandy Springs: Land and People.” The display that chronicles local history will be showcased in the circa-1880s William-Payne House, just steps from the festival on Heritage Green.

“We are the only place that tells the story of Sandy Springs,” said Kimberly Brigance, director of programs and historic resources for Heritage Sandy Springs that organizes the annual festival and operates the William-Payne House.

Since it moved to 6075 Sandy Springs Circle in 1985, the historic structure has served as a house museum upstairs and private gathering space downstairs.

Although overflowing with period antiques, the items displayed were unrelated to Sandy Springs and did little to portray the history of the house or the city, Brigance said. “It was very crowded and very dark.”

When the visitor count for the house museum dwindled to a total of 20 visitors in 2007, Heritage decided it was time to re-examine the best use for the facility.

“We decided to repurpose it as a museum that tells the entire story of Sandy Springs,” said Brigance, who compiled the information and artifacts for the new exhibit.

The upstairs now has been repainted in lighter colors, and the rooms are clear of all antiques.

A light-filled room houses the permanent display “Sandy Springs: Land and People” that tells the city’s story beginning with its first inhabitants, the Creek and Cherokee Indians, to its incorporation in 2005. Topics include early settlers, rural life, handmade crafts, the city’s role in the Civil War and 20th century growth.

The space also features local artifacts like a double wagon chair, well shovel, meal bin and earthenware jugs.

Two other upstairs rooms will soon serve as temporary exhibit space with changing displays. Ready in time for the festival preview, the first will feature the history of Morgan Falls Overlook Park.

Brigance added the upstairs entry room will one day chronicle the history of the William-Payne House. The downstairs will remain a private meeting space.

“Sandy Springs: Land and People” is expected to officially open in the spring.

For more information on the exhibit or to schedule a tour, contact Brigance at or (404) 851-9111.