Pictured is the birth home of Atlanta’s greatest citizen, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born in an upstairs bedroom on January 15th, 1929. It is located at 501 Auburn Avenue in the Sweet Auburn District, and was designated a National Historic Site by Congress in 1980.
The structure was built in 1895. The King family’s association with the building started in 1909 when Martin Luther King’s grandfather purchased the home. It was his maternal grandfather who made the buy, the Reverend Adam Williams of the Ebenezer Baptist Church located just a block away.
In 1926, when Martin Luther King, Sr. (he was then known as Michael King) married Alberta Williams (daughter of Rev. A.D. Williams), the young couple moved into the Williams home. Like Alberta’s father, Michael King was a pastor at Ebenezer. And Martin Luther King, Jr. would follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps at Ebenezer.
All three of the King children, Willie Christine King, Michael King, Jr. (Martin Luther King, Jr.) and Alfred Daniel Williams King were born in the parents bedroom of this home, and in that order. The elder Michael King changed his name in 1934, along with his young son’s name, to Martin Luther King to honor Martin Luther. The King family lived in the home until 1941, when Martin Jr. was 12 years old.
After 1941 the home was divided into two units that were rentals. The King family moved to another home within the Sweet Auburn district at 193 Boulevard, which has since been torn down, lost to Atlanta history. Alfred Daniel Williams King rented the upper floor of 501 Auburn Avenue while a pastor at Ebenezer into the 1960’s.
The home has been restored to how it appeared during Martin Luther King, Jr.’s lifetime. Tours by the National Park Service of the home are free, but tickets are required and these tickets get snatched up quickly.
Except on one day a year. Can you guess what day? I will give you a hint: it was established as a Federal holiday in 1986 and is celebrated every third Monday of January… it’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of course!
On this holiday the King birth home is an open house to the public. Anybody can just show up and walk in without a ticket. And it just so happens to be coming up this Monday. Quite convenient! For more information on the Martin Luther King, Jr. birth home and the other buildings associated with King in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site’s website here.