Before her death in 2008, Peggy Miles had a final wish: preserving Lost Corner, her family’s historic, 24-acre Sandy Springs property, as a public park for future generations to enjoy. That wish comes true on March 17, when the city cuts the ribbon on its newest park, Lost Corner Preserve.

The cottage in Lost Corner Preserve. (Photo Phil Mosier)

A recent preview tour showed the fruits of six years of city and volunteer labor at Lost Corner, located at 7300 Brandon Mill Road. Nature trails wind through woods. Gardens—of both the community and landscape variety—are ready to bloom. A new stone parking area and paths lead to the picturesque, nearly century-old cottage where Miles lived and died, now renovated into a rentable community event space.

“I think Peggy would have been absolutely delighted…I think this is exactly what she wanted, exactly what she planned for,” said Trisha Thompson, a friend of Miles who joined Cheryl Barlow in forming Friends of Lost Corner to organize support for the park.

Lost Corner has had only a handful of owners and survived largely undeveloped since the early 1800s, when white settlers drove out Native Americans, according to the park’s friends group. First known as Falling Branch—still the name of the creek running through the property—the land was a farm before and during the Civil War.

Miles’ family bought the land in 1913 and built the cottage, where Peggy was born in 1922. The cottage was among the first local houses to have electricity because Peggy’s father, Fred, sold power from the then new Morgan Falls dam. Fred Miles dubbed the property Lost Corner because visitors to the then remote area often got lost trying to find it, according to the friends group.

A 1940 photo of Peggy Miles, who wanted Lost Corner preserved as a park, that hangs in the preserve’s cottage. (Photo Phil Mosier)

Peggy Miles lived alone at the property in her later years, where Thompson and Barlow often visited her, talking on the porch or in the book-filled front room. On one visit in 2006, Barlow brought her young children along, inspiring Miles to preserve her property for other generations.

In 2008, the Georgia Trust for Public Land, the Sandy Springs Conservancy and the city came together to purchase 22 acres of the property for about $830,000. About $167,000 of that came through donations raised by the friends group with help from the late Fulton County Commissioner Tom Lowe. Miles died that year.

The city soon began restoration work and formed a citizen steering committee that recommended trails, security and parking. Since then, 2 more acres were purchased and various park improvements have come into use, during a long “soft opening” of the park. Community gardens opened to public use in spring 2013 and a renovation of the cottage was completed in 2014.

The grand opening will highlight more improvements over the past year. Some, like hiking trails, are well-known. Others may be little surprises, like the beehive personally tended by Mayor Rusty Paul, who reportedly calls it the “Beta Beta Beta sorority.” The property also now features a greenhouse donated, along with more than 100 plants, by the Mayson family from Glenridge Hall. A grander historic Sandy Springs family property, a portion of the Glenridge Hall estate off Abernathy Road, also will become part of a public park, but without the historic mansion, which was demolished last year.

The Lost Corner cottage, flanked outside by gigantic old oak trees, has charming architectural touches inside: a large gas fireplace with built-in benches and detailed leaded-glass windows. The cottage will not be open to general park visitors, but will be available for city and community events, including the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods annual meeting March 23. The Friends of Lost Corner will host an open house on the March 17 weekend, too.

Photos of Lost Corner’s landscape, wildlife and history decorate the walls. Looking down on the main meeting room is Peggy Miles in her 1940 high-school graduation photo with a smile that will embrace many celebrations to come at Lost Corner.

Lost Corner Preserve ribbon-cutting

Thurs., March 17, 11 a.m., 7300 Brandon Mill Road

Cottage open house hosted by Friends of Lost Corner

Thurs., March 17 through Sat., March 19, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

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John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.