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History murky for Sandy Springs street believed named for KKK founder

Sandy Springs has called a workshop at City Hall, Oct. 18, on redeveloping and revitalizing the community’s North End. CITY OF SANDY SPRINGS
Sandy Springs has called a workshop at City Hall, Oct. 18, on redeveloping and revitalizing the community’s North End. CITY OF SANDY SPRINGS

Sandy Springs has set a date for residents to comment on changing the spelling of two streets that officials believe were named for a founder of the Ku Klux Klan. Two people with longtime roots in the city are uncertain that streets are named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was also a Confederate general.

A public hearing on removing an ‘r’ in Lake Forrest Drive and Forrest Lake Drive will be held during the City Council meeting at 6 p.m., Aug. 4.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul has said changing the spelling of the roads reflects where the U.S. is today in the national conversation on race.

Sandy Springs historians Clarke Otten and Bill Hardin who grew up in the area said the road, which extends into Atlanta, was originally named West Peachtree Drive. Hardin’s research from the Atlanta History Center shows the Fulton County Commission changed the name to Lake Forrest Drive on July 6, 1938.

Years earlier, Forrest Adair Sr. served on the commission. Hardin, 64, believes Adair’s father served beside Bedford Forrest as an aide during the Civil War.

The Adair family has developed real estate throughout metro Atlanta and owned land nearby Lake Forrest Drive in 1938, Hardin said.

“My thought is the street was changed to Lake Forrest from West Peachtree Drive because of Forrest Adair, but I have no proof,” Hardin said.

Otten has no records mentioning Nathan Bedford Forrest in Sandy Springs but several streets that were named after early settlers were misspelled, he said.

Johnson Ferry is named after the Johnston family and Mount Paran after the Perian clan, he said.

“I’ve never seen anything commemorating the road to Nathan Bedford Forrest,” Otten said regarding Lake Forrest Drive. “My opinion and it’s just that - an opinion with no validation - I think it’s probably a misspelling.”

Otten and Hardin agree that the road was likely constructed by Fulton County. Otten said many early family settlers named roads after themselves and they were not located near main street arteries. They also named roads “mount” such as Mount Paran or Mount Vernon to let travelers know they would be going up or down a hill.

Otten said he attributes Lake Forrest Drive to Fulton County because it’s structured in away that respects property boundaries more faithfully than the others.

The smaller road, Forrest Lake Drive intersects with Lake Forrest Drive. Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun said parts of both roads are in the city of Atlanta. Officials there will be asked to approve and adjust spelling on signs located in Atlanta boundaries, she said.

The estimated cost of changing all of the street signs for the two roads in Sandy Springs will be about $9,000.