Shortly after her move to Toccoa Falls, Sarah Staley, a retired New York City principal, began construction on a white clapboard house that she believed would become her residence. However, God had another purpose in mind for the house and for the life of Sarah A. Staley. After retirement, Sarah had moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where she lived near Richard Forrest's former college roommate William McDuffie and his wife Lillian. Richard and William had worked for Miss Staley during their days as students as The Bible Training Institute (Nyack College) in Nyack, New York. Sarah hired both young men to do house chores at her Nyack home.
When she heard Richard and Evelyn Forrest were starting a school in the foothills of northeast Georgia, Sarah's interest was stirred, and she made it clear that she wanted to return to the classroom. Her decision to join the Forrests in their endeavor proved to be God inspired. She moved to Toccoa Falls the same day the Forrests arrived in Toccoa and worked right alongside them cleaning and preparing the inn for the student that would soon arrive from Golden Valley, North Carolina. Once classes were underway, Sarah began construction on her own house on the hill overlooking Haddock Inn. The view from this knoll was and remains spectacular.
Tragery struck on May 7, 1913. Sarah Staley was on her way to Haddock Inn to teach a class when she noticed the inn's roof was on fire. She immediately went into shock. After gaining her composure, she hurried down the hill to warn the others, but it was too late. While everyone escaped without injury, within 45 minutes Haddock Inn lay in smoldering ruins. At the time of the fire, Rev. Forrest was in Miami, Florida, on business. When he returned home, several members of the faculty expressed serious concern about containing, but Sarah's faith was not shaken. When he asked her what they should do, Sarah looked at Richard dead in the eyes and said, "We'll go on. We can't stop. The Lord has called us to do this work. There's my house up on the hill. Use it any way you like." Richard took her up on the offer, and the Staley Cottage became the headquarters for Toccoa Falls Institute.
Sarah continued to teach at the college until her death on January 13, 1917. Before she died, Sarah Staley transferred ownership of her home to Dr. and Mrs. Forrest and to Toccoa Falls College. This is when her home became known as Forrest Cottage. It later became the home of Kelly and Alice Barnes. Sarah's grave in Atlanta, Georgia, bears this inscription: "Sarah A. Staley, October 7, 1844-January 13, 1917. Beloved Toccoa Falls College teacher and friend. She trusted God and gained the eternal victory!"
This historical marker is placed in honor of the Centennial Celebration 1907-2007. Donated in memory of Sarah Staley by Patrica McGarvey (1978).