A design for a facility to better showcase the historic spring that gave Sandy Springs its name has been chosen and will be revealed to the public soon, according to Heritage Sandy Springs.

“Our goal is to reimagine the spring site, our community’s namesake, as an inspiring symbol of our heritage and our future,” said Carol Thompson, Heritage’s executive director. Construction could begin late this year or in 2017, she said.

The spring on Heritage Green as it appeared in late 2015. (Photo John Ruch)

Heritage Green, the nonprofit’s historic property on Blue Stone Road, includes the spring where religious revival meetings of the 1840s led to the establishment of a community. Today, the spring is, as a Heritage presentation bluntly puts it, “a hole in the ground covered by a metal grate.” Many visitors are underwhelmed, Thompson and Heritage board member Chip Emerson previously said.

Earlier this year, Heritage announced a design competition for some sort of facility to show off the spring—especially to reveal the flowing water. The nonprofit had raised nearly $100,000 for the project.

Now, Thompson said, Heritage has selected a winning design and architect from three in competition. Heritage was scheduled to show the design privately to leaders of the Sandy Springs Society, the project’s largest funder, and also will present it to the City Council.

“Once those two groups have been briefed on the project, we will be happy to share more details…about the design and our chosen architect,” Thompson said.

The spring is just part of Heritage’s master planning for changes and improvements.

“As we look ahead to 2016, Heritage Sandy Springs is at a pivotal moment in our community’s history as a new city center is being developed adjacent to our historic property,” wrote Thompson in the nonprofit’s 2015 annual report.

A “Heritage Trail” connecting the forthcoming City Springs town center and Heritage with local history markers is one idea. Similar self-guided history tour trails exist around the country, such as San Francisco’s Barbary Coast Trail, where medallions in the sidewalk mark historic sites, and Asheville, N.C.’s, Urban Trail, which combines sculptures and historic markers.

Emerson said Heritage’s version is in the early planning stages. But the idea is to install about 10 markers at the City Springs site that, rather than marking actual historic locations, would link via smartphone or computer to local history information. Placing an actual trail of such markers down the street to Heritage or other locations would be a second step.

Other physical projects proposed, but not yet fully planned, for Heritage Green are a museum expansion and a covering on the stage at the Entertainment Lawn.

Yet another idea already carried out is the “Sandy Springs Gazette,” an online digital magazine of articles based on oral histories collected by Heritage. That publication is available on the nonprofit’s website at heritagesandysprings.org.

A new exhibit based on the Gazette, “Sandy Springs Gazette LIVE!,” opens Sept. 7 in the Williams-Payne House museum on Heritage Green.

“The exhibit will further bring these stories to life through enhanced imagery, artifacts and hands-on activities for children throughout the museum,” said Melissa Swindell, Heritage’s director of historic resources and education programs.

John Ruch

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