Ebenezer Baptist Church
Gary Tarleton, HFC, NPS
Throughout its long history, Ebenezer Baptist Church, located in Atlanta, Georiga, has been a spiritual home to many citizens of the "Sweet Auburn" community. Its most famous member, Martin Luther King, Jr., was baptized as a child in the church. After giving a trial sermon to the congregation at Ebenezer at the age of 19 Martin was ordained as a minister. In 1960 Dr. King, Jr. became a co-pastor of Ebenezer with his father, "Daddy" King. He remained in that position until his death in 1968. As a final farewell to his spiritual home Dr. King, Jr.'s funeral was held in the church.
In 2000 a study of the church building resulted in "Ebenezer Baptist Church, Historic Structure Report" (File Size: 31.5 MB) being issued by the National Park Service. This reports serves as a guideline for the restoration of the church.
In 2001, thanks to a Save America's Treasures Grant and the contributions of many individuals and corporations, the National Park Service began the restoration of historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. The restoration will be completed in two phases.
Phase I included design and installation of major systems including, electrical, heating and air conditioning, and fire suppression. Structural repairs were made to the roof system and the historic exterior Ebenezer sign was repaired and lit for the first time since 1990. A chair lift was installed to provide accessibility to the sanctuary. The funding for Phase I involved a private and public partnership and cost $1,885,000.
Phase II of the project will restore the appearance of the sanctuary and fellowship hall to the 1960-68 period when Dr. King served as co-pastor with his father.
Special work items include preservation of stain glass windows; restoration/replication of furnishings; repair of balcony structural system; rehabilitation of restrooms; abatement of asbestos-containing flooring; treatment of termite infestation/damage; installation of a lightning protection system; improvement of site drainage; and restoration of a sidewalk, baptistery, and pipe organ and its antiphonal.
A scheduled date for Phase II has yet to be determined.
Did You Know?
On April 3, 1963, civil rights forces led by Dr. King launched a drive against discrimination in Birmingham, AL. The city's police force, led by Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor, used high-powered water hoses and dogs against demonstrators. The brutality of the repression aroused public opinion.