Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center

The heritage center is a must-see for all nature lovers. Located in several hectares of woodland with dappled sunshine, wetlands, and Sal’s Creek’s trickling waters, it contains a three-kilometer boardwalk path that winds its way through these beautiful landscapes. The natural landscape of the Autrey Mill is beautiful, if not overpowering. The area has over 100 species that are native to it and many other recorded ones, including trees and flowers.

Built in the 1860s, this building was once home to Summerour House – a Victorian-style farmhouse. It now houses our visitor center and museum on local history. The 46-acre Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center tells the story of 400 years in just one place. From dense forest to fertile farmland, this landscape has changed many times over – but it always returns its inhabitants’ hope for a better future through preserving history at every turn.

The Autrey family, who had operated this mill since 1877, abandoned it in favor of other more modern facilities. The five-story structure once used for grinding wheat flour and corn was secondary at best; by the late 1890s, people could buy their groceries instead. The abandoned Autrey Mill was facing decay and falling apart until it wasn’t recognized as such by one man who would later publish an account of his family’s experiences during this period in The Cotton Renter’s Son.

The de Bray family owned this property for nearly 30 years, but they didn’t want to see it destroyed. A grassroots movement by community activists saved the historic site from development, and now restoration work continues so that future generations can learn about how important environmental awareness was in our past. In 2007, the deed to Autrey Mill Nature Preserve was transferred from Atlanta and Fulton County. It is now under control by an organization called “The Association,” which wants nothing more than for people to visit their preserves so that we can all enjoy its beauty.  

The old water mill is now a popular spot for outdoor activities like swimming and fishing. The dam was built about 300 yards upstream with rocks forming the ravine banks that lead into one long narrow lake where power could be found at its center.

The bustling city of Johns Creek is home to Autrey Mill, which has been in operation since 1894. The archaeological survey conducted on this property revealed foundation stones from the old mill that can be seen along Sal’s Creek near River Loop Trail, among many other clues found during construction work at one time or another throughout our city’s landscape.