Tucked away in an Atlanta neighborhood known as Sweet Auburn is an unassuming brown-and-cream home. While it may look like any other in the historic neighborhood, it’s actually the birthplace of a man who changed history.
Martin Luther King Jr. was born there in an upstairs middle room on Jan. 15, 1929. Americans celebrate his birth as a federal holiday on the third Monday in January.
The house at 501 Auburn Ave. belonged to his maternal grandparents. He lived there until he was 12 with his grandparents, parents, siblings, other family members and several boarders.
Built on an enclosed brick foundation, the house has a rec room/parlor, a dining room, a kitchen, a coal cellar and a children’s play area on the first floor. The second floor consists of several bedrooms--including the one where King was born, which belonged to his parents--and a den.
It also boasts a one-story partial front and side porch with scroll cut woodwork trim, two porthole windows and a side bay.
The Kings owned the house even after they left it in 1941 for a house a few blocks away, and in 1971, King’s mother turned the home over to the public.
The home is now part of the National Park Service’s Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Inside the house, original or period-appropriate furniture represents the time King was growing up there. Some of the family’s personal belongings are also on display.
The National Historic Site also includes another building important to King’s life, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he attended church as a child, was ordained as a pastor and gave some of his most significant sermons. The three-story red brick structure, built from 1914 to 1922, includes stone details and stained glass windows, and is only a short walk from King’s birth home.
East of the church, King’s crypt rests on a raised pedestal in the center of a reflecting pool, with the inscription “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I’m free at last.”
- Real Estate
- Martin Luther King