Martin Luther King, Jr.
Historic Resource Study
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Chapter Four:

On October 30, 1992, the boundary of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site was expanded in an effort to accomplish several goals. The additional acreage (boundary expansion area) will accommodate off-street parking lots for the increasing number of visitors to the Site. Within the boundary expansion area is the Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Center, which NPS contemplates acquiring and converting to a visitor center. Finally, subject to the negotiation of appropriate agreements and successful fund-raising by the congregation, a portion of the new acreage will be made available to Ebenezer Baptist Church for the construction of a new place of worship. For some time, Ebenezer's auditorium has been unable to accommodate all who wish to attend services and programs there. If the congregation can build a new auditorium, this will relieve the pressure to enlarge or modify the historic church structure, with its strong associations to Dr. King, and permit expanded NPS interpretation at the existing church building.

The expanded Site boundary extends north from Auburn Avenue to the rear property lines of the parcels lying on the north side of Cain Street. The east side of Jackson Street forms the west boundary line. The west side of Boulevard and the west property lines of 70 Boulevard and 200 Auburn Avenue form the east boundary. Currently, NPS plans to demolish most or all standing structures within the boundary expansion area, except 412 Houston Street, which will be adapted for use as a new maintenance facility.

Fifteen industrial and commercial buildings are located within the boundary expansion area. Most are remnants of Atlanta's early-twentieth-century urbanization. Devastated by fire in 1917, this area was rebuilt as a residential, commercial, and industrial district. By 1923, substantial single-family residences lined Boulevard, and three industrial concerns bordered this residential community. As additional manufacturing and industrial enterprises replaced the residences along the main avenues, multiple dwellings and apartment flats clustered around interior alleys. This area extended black residential and commercial occupancy beyond Auburn Avenue.

During the 1950s, the entire Auburn Avenue community experienced economic decline. Some industrial concerns, such as Scripto, Inc., continued to expand. Many more affluent residents relocated, some moving to more fashionable west-side neighborhoods. By 1965, not a single residence remained within the boundary expansion area. Industrial and manufacturing concerns were affected by this decline as well. In 1977, Scripto relocated to suburban Gwinnett County, further destabilizing the community.

Many of the boundary expansion area's fifteen commercial and industrial buildings are currently unoccupied and in disrepair. The interior alleys are no longer discernable, and streetscapes are defined by the vacant lots separating most structures. Only part of one building remains on the north side of Cain Street, for example, where construction of the Presidential Parkway has hastened the destruction of buildings on that side of the street.

List of Classified Structures and Georgia SHPO architectural survey forms were completed for all boundary expansion area properties considered potentially eligible for the National Register under Criterion C. The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Register Historic District extends as far north as Auburn Avenue and, east of Boulevard, to Irwin Street. The boundary expansion area was excluded from the original district nomination because its integrity was compromised by the earlier removal of period structures, leaving discontinuous remnants intact. Because they are not part of a district, the boundary expansion area properties were evaluated under the criteria established for individual and multiple property nominations. None of these properties was found to meet the minimum requirements for National Register eligibility under Criterion C. Three properties do not meet the 50-year requirement. No structure is the work of a master and none possesses high artistic merit. The structures also do not embody distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, because all properties have problems of integrity relating to design, setting, feeling, or association. A description of each of the surveyed properties follows:

130 BOULEVARD, 1920-1923. A two-Story, brick industrial building with a shed roof, decorative brick parapet, and brick pilasters. The one-story, two-bay addition to the north matches in both style and building materials.

442 CAIN STREET, 1929. A one-story, trapezoid-shaped, brick service station with a shed roof, stepped parapet, and skylight. Facade features a single service bay with double, cross-braced doors and a three-bay office.

409 HOUSTON, 1923 - 1928. A one-story, trapezoid-shaped, brick-and-concrete-block industrial building with a gable roof and two, large saw-tooth skylights. Formerly a laundry, the large open factory retains original features.

412 HOUSTON STREET, 1920-1923. A one-story, shed-roofed brick industrial building with a two-story, shed-roofed office tower at the NW corner. Decorative brickwork and awning, milled newel post and wainscoting remain.

423 HOUSTON STREET, 1931. A two-story, gable-roofed, brick industrial building with gable-roofed end pavilions featuring terra-cotta door surrounds. One-and-two story structures have been added on the south and east sides.

450 HOUSTON STREET, ca. 1923. A two-story, shed-roofed, trapezoid-shaped, brick commercial building with a three-part facade defined by four brick piers. Brick panels exist above the storefront and below the parapet.

456-460 HOUSTON STREET, 1948. A one-story, trapezoid-shaped, concrete-block commercial building with a shed roof and stepped parapet. The facade contains two three-part storefronts.

466 HOUSTON STREET, 1946. A one-story, trapezoidal-shaped, brick commercial building with a shed roof which supports three, large billboards. A corner storefront is located on Boulevard with a second on Houston Street.

454 IRWIN STREET, 1946. A two-story, rectangular-shaped, concrete-block industrial building with a gable roof and stepped gable ends. A concrete ramp rises to the steel-decked second story.

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Last Updated: 26-Oct-2002