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Atlanta – MLK Historic Site: Ebenezer Baptist Church
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Image by wallyg
The Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, located at 407 Auburn Avenue, features a long history of civil rights, but is most famous for its association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was here that Dr. King was baptized in 1936, gave his first sermon in the fall of 1947, and was ordained in February, 1948. He served as co-pastor with his father until he left to Crozer Theological Seminary in September 1948, and as Ebenezer’s associate minister during his breaks from Seminary and his doctoral studies at Boston University School of Theology through early 1954. Under Dr. King, Ebenezer was often the site of meetings and rallies, including the organizational meetings that led to the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. He later returned as co-pastor with his father, serving from 1960 until his assassination in 1968. On April 9, 1968, a private funeral service, filled with 1,300 people, was held for Dr. King at Ebenezer, followed by a three-mile procession to his alma mater, Morehouse College, for a public service.

The church was founded in 1886 by its first minister, John Andrew Parker. In 1893 Reverend Adam Daniel (A.D.) Williams, the son of a slave preacher and Dr. King’s maternal grandfather, became the church’s second pastor. Under Williams, the church grew exponentially and moved twice before the current new church building was constructed from over an extended period of time, from 1914 to 1922, with some finishing touches not complete into the 1930′s and 40′s. No architect has been identified for the Late Gothic Revival design, although some oral traditions credit Rev. Williams.

In 1933, Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., took over as Ebenezer’s third pastor, a position he’d hold until his retirement in 1975. Alterations designed by Edward C. Miller in 1955-56 introduced the Christian Education Building, connected by an elevated walkway, a redesigned interior, and a baptismal pool. In 1970, Muldawer & Patterson in association with J.W. Robinson designed a new vestibule in front of the education building and made interior alterations. A four-year, 8-million restoration returning the church to its 1960′s appearance was completed in 2011.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, an area of about 2 blocks around Auburn Avenue, was established by the National Park Service (NPS) on October 10, 1980. The historic site includes King’s gravesite; the historic Fire Station No. 6; the "I Have a Dream" International World Peace Rose Garden; and the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District, an area bound roughly by Irwin, Randolph, Edgewood, and Auburn Avenues, was established in 1974 and later, in 1977 designated a national historic landmark, and expanded in 2001. The district encompasses the environs in which Martin Luther King, Jr., grew up from his birth in 1929 until he left Atlanta.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and Preservation District National Register #80000435 (1980)
Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District National Register #74000677 (1974)

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