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Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Sweet Auburn birth home sells for nearly $2M

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The iconic Auburn Avenue house, now the property of the National Parks Service, has stood since 1895

a picture of the home
Civil rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in this Auburn Avenue home in 1929.
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

In 1909, Rev. Adam Daniel Williams, then the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, paid $3,500 for a modest two-story house on Auburn Avenue.

At that point, the home was about 14 years old, and no one could have predicted the historical significance it would come to have.

About 20 years after Williams purchased the house from a white family, his grandson, Michael King, Jr., was born there.

In 1934, the child’s name was changed to something most people would recognize today: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since the early 1980s, decades after King had helped birth the civil rights movement, and about 14 years after his assassination, his birth home began hosting free tours for the public.

It’s since been a cherished monument to the iconic leader who helped shape not just Atlanta, but the United States at large.

And late last month, the home was sold to the National Park Service for nearly $2 million, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The deal was negotiated at the tail end of November through the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, after the King family had controlled it for most of a century, the newspaper reported.

The National Park Service, of course, did not come out of left field to make the buy.

For three decades, the federal agency has curated the house-turned-museum, where droves of people flock each year—especially around Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, in January—to see where the late civil rights hero spent the first 12 years of his life, before moving a few blocks north on Boulevard.

In 1980, King’s birth home was designated a national historic site by the National Park Service.

The Auburn Avenue house, of course, is not the only surviving memorial to King; it’s actually one of many stops on the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site tour, which includes a visit to Historic Fire Station No. 6, the King Center, and Ebenezer Baptist Church.

And just a few blocks away from the historic site, in Old Fourth Ward, the David T. Howard School—King’s former elementary school that was later converted into a high school, but ultimately shuttered and neglected—is undergoing a $50 million transformation into a middle school.

That project is expected to be complete by the 2020 fall semester.