Almost a million people make the pilgrimage to Atlanta each year to pay tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Since 1980, the National Park Service has maintained the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, which includes the graves of King and his wife, the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the King Birth Home, and Historic Fire Station No. 6.
The King Birth Home
Built in 1895, this Queen Anne-style dwelling housed several generations of the King family. For the first dozen years of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. shared the house with his grandparents, parents, brother, sisters, a great aunt, and an uncle. The King Birth Home (501 Auburn Ave., 404/331-6922, daily 10am-5pm) has been refurbished to reflect the aesthetics of the 1930s. Visitors who want to tour the King Birth Home should plan to arrive early to collect tickets at the National Park Service Visitor Center (450 Auburn Ave., daily 9am-5pm; tours are free but typically fill up fast because they’re limited to 15 people). The half-hour tours are led by park rangers.
Historic Fire Station No. 6
Atlanta’s oldest standing fire station, Historic Fire Station No. 6 was built in 1894 and served the Sweet Auburn neighborhood until 1991. It underwent a thorough renovation in 1995, and today the two-story redbrick Romanesque Revival building houses a museum (39 Boulevard, 404/331-5190, daily 10am-5pm, free) detailing the desegregation of Atlanta’s fire department and features a 1927 American LaFrance fire engine. Two of the original brass sliding poles also remain.
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Martin Luther King Jr.’s father and grandfather presided at the Ebenezer Baptist Church (407 Auburn Ave., 404/688-7300, Mon.-Sat. 10am-5pm), which was built in 1922. King was baptized at Ebenezer as a child and ordained at the age of 19. His funeral was held here in 1968. In 1974, violence erupted in the church when a gunman shot and killed King’s mother, Alberta Christine Williams King, along with another deacon. The church’s congregation moved in 1999 to the massive Horizon Sanctuary across the street. Plan to spend 20-30 minutes sitting in the sanctuary, where recordings of King’s sermons play on repeat.
Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Atlanta.