By Michael Davis
Over the years, the Indian Spring Hotel has been a hotel, a boarding house and a museum dedicated to the history of the Indian Springs area -- and the tales surrounding Chief William McIntosh's signing of a treaty ceding 4.7 million acres of Native-American land to the state of Georgia.
Soon, parts of the site may be available to rent again.
The Butts County Historical Society, which operates the Indian Spring Hotel/Museum, won approval recently from Butts County commissioners to use the property to host private functions.
The county owns the building, which functions now as a museum, while the historical society operates it.
The society opens the museum to visitors on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, conducting tours of its rooms and discussing their contents.
Frankie Willis, the president of the Butts County Historical Society, said the group is hoping that rentals of the property -- the large porch areas and lawn --- for wedding parties, family functions and corporate events will eventually help make the museum self-sustaining and provide for continuing maintenance and upgraded exhibits.
"Something this big, you have to make some money," she said. "Something that's 180-something years old in Butts County, we need to hold on to it."
The building, built around 1823, is said to be the only known ante bellum mineral springs hotel in the state of Georgia still standing. Willis said that in its heyday, a number of hotels dotted the Indian Springs area, catering to visitors looking to avail themselves of the spring's reputed benefits.
The target audience for rentals would be those planning weddings, corporate events and other family-friendly functions. Willis said the historical society would have someone present to conduct tours during those events.
"We're going to be so cognizant of the historical nature of the building. We're not going to let people run amok," she said. "We have this asset. We might as well attempt to make it self-sustaining."
Jim Herbert, director of Leisure Services for Butts County , acts as a liaison between the county commission and the historical society.
He said help offsetting maintenance costs of the building would be welcome. The county last year budgeted about $12,000 to the Indian Spring Hotel/Museum, he said.
"The historical society, as much as they can help offset that, that would be ideal," Herbert said. "It's a beautiful facility. I think people will want to use it. It's an asset to the county."