History of Sandy Springs
The key feature that caused the land around Sandy Springs to be explored and developed was the freshwater spring bubbling up out of the ground in the location now occupied by the Sandy Springs Historic Site & Museum. Most people today do not think about the ease with which safe drinking water flows into their homes through our public plumbing infrastructure but hundreds of years ago, the fresh drinking water from the spring was worth its weight in gold. The Native American Indians knew about the springs and so did the buffalo that came there to drink. By 400 A.D., American Indians had established three trails intersecting at the springs; the Itawa, the Hightower and the Shallowford trails. During the 16th century, the Creek Muskogee Indian tribe moved into the area and settled near the springs but they were forced to give up their homes and land when gold was discovered around the beginning of the 19th century. In 1821, the federal government instituted a series of land lotteries and a small community began to form as people moved into the area of Sandy Springs and purchased land.
One of Sandy Springs’ first prominent landowners was named Stephen Lee Spruill. By the time land was being offered in the lotteries, the Spruill family had already acquired a large property that extended from Long Island Creek to present day Mt. Vernon Road. In 1842, the Austin-Johnson House located on Johnson Ferry Road near Abernathy Road was constructed. Today it is the oldest unaltered house in Sandy Springs. Like many communities in America, Sandy Springs experienced a housing boom in the aftermath of World War II but it wasn’t until completion of Interstate 285 and Route 400 during the 1960’s that major development began in earnest.
A peaceful little revolutionary war sprung from Sandy Springs in the 1970’s
After the City of Atlanta attempted to use a state law to compel annexation of Sandy Springs in the early 1970’s, residents formed the Committee for Sandy Springs and in 1975 began lobbying for the creation of a new city. From 1989 through 2005, bills were introduced in the state legislature every year to authorize a referendum on incorporation. Each bill was defeated by a coalition of Atlanta and Fulton County politicians who feared a loss of revenue from the new city. In early 2005, Republicans gained a majority in both houses of the General Assembly and an initiative for referendum was approved. On June 21, 2005, 94% of Sandy Springs’ residents voted in favor of city incorporation. On December 1, 2005, the incorporation of Sandy Springs as a city was completed. Today Sandy Springs is Georgia’s 7th largest city.