Martin Luther King, Jr.
Historic Resource Study
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1For purposes of this study, "Civil Rights Movement" refers to the campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s; organized activity on behalf of black civil rights dates at least to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.

2The 1980 legislation (Public Law 96-428) creating the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site authorized a 23.78-acre park roughly bounded by Jackson Street on the west, Old Wheat Street on the north, Howell Street on the east, and the rear property lines on the south side of Edgewood Avenue. The Reclamation Projects Authorization and Adjustment Act of 1992, enacted October 30, 1992, expanded the park boundaries to include properties lying between Jackson Street and Boulevard north to Cain Street.

3The legislation that created the Site also authorized the ultimate acquisition of the Atlanta house occupied by Martin Luther King, Jr., and his widow, Coretta Scott King.

4Public Law 96-428, October 10, 1980.

5Two National Register districts, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Historic District and the Sweet Auburn Historic District, were established in the 1970s and commemorate King and the historic Atlanta east-side black community. The Martin Luther King, Jr., Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. The 1980 Martin Luther King, Jr., Preservation District, established by the Site's enabling legislation, includes all property listed in the 1974 historic district. The Sweet Auburn Historic District was made a National Historic Landmark in 1976. In addition, the city of Atlanta, through the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, established the Martin Luther King, Jr., Landmark District in 1989, consolidating two existing city preservation districts. Most of these districts overlap within the Site, providing protection through federal programs and local zoning ordinances.

6"Georgia Historic Resources Survey Manual" (Atlanta: Historic Preservation Section, Parks and Historic Sites Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, n.d.), 38-39; History and Prehistory in the National Park System and the National Historic Landmarks Program (Washington, D.C. : National ark Service, 1987), 1-16, 1-20, 1-21.

7National Register Bulletin 16B: How to Complete the National Register Multiple Property Documentation Form (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1991), 15.

Chapter 1

8This context addresses the historic Auburn Avenue black community, encompassing the Site itself and adjacent areas of the Preservation District.

9C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, 3d rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), 33, 44, 97; John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, 6th ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), 231-37.

10Richard Bardolph, "Fifteenth Amendment," in The Encyclopedia of Southern History, ed. David C. Roller and Robert W. Twyman (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979), 43.

11Franklin and Moss, 235-38.

12Andy Ambrose, Vincent Fort, Alexa Henderson, Dean Rowley, Carole Stevens, and Barbara Tagger, Historic Resource Study, Auburn Avenue Community of Atlanta, 1865-1930 (Draft) (Atlanta, n.d.), Part I, 3-5.

13Ambrose, et. al., Part I, 3-1 - 3-12; John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, 3d ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967), 336-37; Horace C. Wingo, "Race Relations in Georgia, 1872-1908," (Ph.D. diss., University of Georgia, 1969), 72-90.

14Roger A. Fischer, "Segregation," in The Encyclopedia of Southern History, 1088-89; C. Van Woodward, Origins of the New South, 1877-1913 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1951), 216.

15Dana F. White, "The Black Sides of Atlanta: A Geography of Expansion and Containment, 1870-1975," The Atlanta Historical Journal 26 (Summer/FaIl 1982), 208-9.

16Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969), vol. II, 283.

17Alexa Henderson and Eugene Walker, Sweet Auburn: The Thriving Hub of Black Atlanta, 1900-1960 (National Park Service, 1983), 5-10; Ambrose, et al., Part I, 2-4.

18Ambrose et al., Part I, 2-11; Michael Leroy Porter, "Black Atlanta: An Interdisciplinary Study of Blacks on the East Side of Atlanta, 1890-1930" (Ph.D. diss., Emory University, 1974), 118, 170-73.

19Ambrose, et al., Part I, 2-4.

20Ambrose, et al., Part I, 1-19 - 1-20, 3-32 - 3-34; Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, 86-87; Wingo, 107-15.

21Ambrose, et al., Part I, 1-21; White, 212; Porter, 139, 141-148, 151, 157.

22Ambrose, et al., Part I, 1-33.

23Ambrose, et al., Part II, 1-9 - 1-10. In 1937, black businesses on Auburn Avenue included: Atlanta Life Insurance Co., 148 Auburn; Citizens Trust Company, 212 Auburn; Pioneer Savings Association, 160 Auburn; Afro-American Life Insurance Company, 241 Auburn; the Atlanta Daily World, 210 Auburn; Hopkins Book and Furniture Store, 141 Auburn; Aiken, Inc., contractors and builders; Blayton, Adair and Co., accountants; Haugabrooks Funeral Home, 368 Auburn; and The Top Hat Club (later the Royal Peacock), 184-186 Auburn (National Negro Business League, 1937 Directory and Souvenir Program).

24Henderson and Walker, 16-17; Ambrose et al., Part I, 2-16 - 2-17, 2-34.

25Ambrose, et al., Part II, 2-1 - 2-2.

26Ambrose, et al., Part II, 2-1, 2-4, 2-8, 2-10, 2-12, 2-25.

27Ambrose, et al., Part I, 4-18 - 4-20.

29Taylor Branch, Parting the Water: America in the King Years, 1954-1963 (New York: Touchstone,1989), 32, 37, 58; Atlanta City Directories.

20Ambrose, et al., Part I, 2-21 - 2-26; White, 218; C. T. Wright, "The Development of Public Schools for Blacks in Atlanta," The Atlanta Historical Journal 26 (Summer/Fall 1982), 115-16.

30Stephen B. Oates, Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King (New York: Mentor, 1985), 9-10, 14-15.

31Malinda King O'Neal, ed., Ebenezer, A Centennial Time Capsule. 1886-1986 (Atlanta: Ebenezer Baptist Church, n.d.), 3-7; Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986), 20; Oates, 6-10: Ambrose, et al., Part II, 9-37.

32Oates, 4.

33Lewis V. Baldwin, There is a Balm in Gilead: The Cultural Roots of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), 161, 207-8.

34Adam Fairclough, To Redeem the Soul of America: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987), 404.

Chapter 2

35A more detailed account of King's civil rights activities can be found in Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963 by Taylor Branch, To Redeem the Soul of America: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Martin Luther King, Jr. by Adam Fairclough, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference by David J. Garrow, and Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Stephen B. Oates.

36Sean Dennis Cashman, African-Americans and the Quest for Civil Rights, 1900-1990 (New York: New York University Press, 1991), 89.

37Franklin, 573-78, 608.

38Franklin and Moss, 411; Homer C. Hawkins, "Negro Migration," in The Encyclopedia of Southern History, 892.

39Oates, 13-14; Fairclough, 2, 31; Franklin, 446-47, 608.

40Branch, 13; Franklin and Moss, 413; Fairclough, 15.

41Fairclough, 15.

42Branch, 112; Fairclough, 21.

43Fairclough, 14, 17-18.

44Martin Luther King, Jr., 25-32; Oates, 35-45.

45Branch, 120-22, 128-31; David J. Garrow, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (New York: Morrow, 1986), 11-14.

46Branch, 131-37.

47Branch, 193.

49Garrow, 81; Fairclough, 23.

48Oates, 119.

50Fairclough, 29-32; Branch, 198-99; Garrow, 81-85, 90, 97.

51Fairclough, 2.

52Fairclough, 2-7.

53Fairclough, 5, 38.

54Garrow, 102-04, 121.

55Garrow, 122-23; Oates, 64, 125, 198, 215-16.

56Branch, 271-72; Garrow, 131-34.

57Oates, 159; Garrow, 138-49.

58Branch, 351-78.

59Branch, 477; Oates, 168-71; Garrow, 154-61.

60Garrow, 173-80, 216-17.

61Garrow, 199, 229, 259-64.

62Garrow, 266, 278, 281-84.

63Garrow, 337; Ruth Cowart Wright, "Civil Rights Act of 1964," in The Encyclopedia of Southern History, 218-19.

64Garrow, 364-65, 728; Oates, 143-44, 271.

65Tom Greene, "Negro Chiefs Back Strike at Scripto, Atlanta Journal, Nov. 30, 1964; James Walker, SCLC Joins in Scripto Walkout," Atlanta Journal, Dec. 2, 1964; Scripto, Union to Talk Anew," Atlanta Daily World, Dec. 13, 1964; Paul Troop and Ann Woolner, Scripto Moves Plant to Suburbs," Atlanta Journal, Dec. 20, 1977; Atlanta building permit files at Atlanta Historical Society.

66Dr. King was away from Atlanta for two weeks during the early part of the strike. King left Atlanta December 4 to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, stopping in London on the way, and in New York and Washington, D.C., on his return trip (Oates, 310-13).

67Walker; Greene; Troop and Woolner; "'Breadbasket' Asks Boycott of Scripto, Atlanta Journal, Dec. 10, 1964; "King Addresses Group Today on Current Strike," Atlanta Daily World, Dec. 1, 1964; "Strikers Meet Tuesday; Hear Pledge of Support," Atlanta Daily World, Dec. 2, 1964; Remer Tyson, "Union's Bias Charge False, Scripto Says," Atlanta Constitution, Dec. 23, 1964.

68Research to date has not indicated exactly where King walked the picket line on December 19. Newspaper accounts from other days, when King was not picketing, indicate that the area around Boulevard and Irwin was the focus of picketing. A large parking lot for Scripto employees was located on the north side of Irwin and would have been a logical site for pickets seeking to keep workers from breaking the strike. One article indicates that on some days, all buildings of the Scripto complex were picketed (Walker; Scripto, Union Meeting Today," Atlanta Daily World, Dec. 3, 1964; "Bargaining Session to Be Held by Scripto and Union," Atlanta Daily World, Dec. 20, 1964).

69Walker; Greene; Troop and Woolner; Tyson; "'Breadbasket' Asks Boycott of Scripto, Atlanta Journal, Dec. 10, 1964; "King Pickets Scripto Plant 30 Minutes," Atlanta Journal, Dec. 20, 1964; G. S. Carlson, "Must Fight for Better Jobs, King Tells 250 Scripto Strikers," Atlanta Constitution, Dec. 21, 1964; "Christmas Bonus Paid, Strikers Suspend Boycott of Scripto, Atlanta Daily World, Dec. 25, 1964; Scripto Gives 900 Pay Hike," Atlanta Journal, Jan. 20, 1965.

70King did not participate in the March 7 demonstration, but two days later he led 2,000 marchers to the Pettus Bridge, where a confrontation was avoided by King's decision not to move beyond the bridge (Garrow, 371-404).

71Garrow 405-12; Oates, 359-60.

72Garrow, 456-59, 489-503, 527-30.

73Garrow, 469-70.

74Garrow, 579-600; Fairclough, 357-59.

75Garrow, 439, 481, 573; Oates, 366-68, 387, 394-95, 401-9, 429, 453.

76Garrow, 604-13; Oates, 453-54, 459-64.

77Garrow, 619-23; Oates, 473-75.

78Garrow, 385-86.

79Oates, 477-79; Ralph David Abernathy, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down (New York: Harper & Row, 1989), 456-65.

80Abernathy, 465; Bruce Keys, King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, telephone conversation, October 1, 1992; Bond & Ryder and Associates, "Project Summary, Martin Luther King Center for Social Change, Atlanta, Georgia," n.d.

81Catalog of Historic Structures, Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site and Preservation District (Atlanta: National Park Service, 1983), 23, 44; Garrow, 171, 200.

82Garrow, 573-74, 615; Fairclough, 51; Baldwin, 316.

83Fairclough, 12-13, 17-18, 32-34.

84The Scripto buildings were added to the Site in the October 1992 boundary expansion. The reasons for the boundary expansion and the properties acquired are addressed in chapter 4.

85Public Law 96-428.

86The significance of the grave site was confirmed by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in a memorandum to the Chief, Cultural Resources Planning Division, SERO, February 22, 1993.

Chapter 3

87All of the following information on area development and change, including building construction dates and the evolving racial composition of the area, is culled from several resources. Sanborn Maps available at Georgia State University for 1899, 1911, 1920, 1923, and 1932 were consulted. Files at the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site contain information obtained primarily from Atlanta City Directories and building permits. Several area studies of the Birth-Home block landscape both historic and contemporary were consulted, including a 1937 Cadastral Survey by the Works Projects Administration. Historic aerial photographs for 1936 and 1949 were perused. In addition, a 1928 City Engineer's Topographic Map of the area was consulted.

88Ambrose, et al., Part I, 2-17.

89Atlanta Urban Design Commission, Atlanta's Lasting Landmarks (Atlanta: Atlanta Urban Design Commission, 1987), 8-10.

90Atlanta Urban Design Commission, 9-10; Ambrose et al., Part I, 2-2; Garrett, vol. II, 208.

91Garrett, vol. I, 879, 957, vol. II, 188-89.

92Ambrose, et al., Part II, 2-19.

93Deed Book 177, Page 370 between A. Tittlebaum and Empire State Investment Company; Deed Book 194, Page 78 between W.A. Foster and Empire State Investment Company, Fulton County Courthouse, Clerk of Court, Atlanta, Georgia. City directory entries demonstrate that by 1910, these houses were occupied by blacks.

94Morris Brown College remained on Boulevard until 1932, when it moved to the West Side and became part of the Atlanta University complex (Garrett, vol. II, 28).

95Ambrose, et al., Part I, 2-9; Catalog of Historic Structures, 66-78.

96Ambrose et al., Part I, 1-29; Catalog of Historic Structures, 17-29.

97Ambrose, et al., Part I, 2-33.

98City Directory research for the period 1890 to 1950 indicated a variety of laboring tenants along Auburn Avenue. Very few remained more than five years.

99Oates, 12.

100Ambrose, et al., Part I, 2-36.

101Atlanta City Council Minutes, 1920-1940, Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, Georgia; Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site Cultural Landscape Report: The Birth-Home Block (Atlanta: National Park Service, Southeast Regional Office, unpublished draft, 1993), 18-19.

102Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site Cultural Landscape Report, 19-20.

103Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site Cultural Landscape Report, 20-22.

104Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Architecture: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1987), 158,601; Virginia and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Knopf, 1984), 211-12.

105McAlester and McAlester, 211-12; John J.-G. Blumenson, Identifying American Architecture: A Pictorial Guide to the Styles. 2d ed. (Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1981), 37.

106Georgia's Living Places: Historic Houses in Their Landscaped Settings (Atlanta: Historic Preservation Section, Division of Parks, Recreation & Historic Sites, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, 1991), 1-26.

107Catalog of Historic Structures, 74.

108Hitchcock, 291-94, 364; McAlester and McAlester, 263-68.

109McAlester and McAlester, 263-68; Mary Mix Foley, The American House (New York: Harper & Row, 1980), 175-76; Carole Rifkind, A Field Guide to American Architecture (New York: New American Library, 1980), 63-65.

110"Historic Structure Report: The Martin Luther King Birth Home, Martin Luther King. Jr., National Historic Site, Atlanta, Georgia (Draft)" (Denver: Denver Service Center, National Park Service), Historical Data Section, 7.

111The location of the vegetable garden recently planted in the back yard does not correspond to the probable historic location of the Kings' vegetable garden.

112Roulhac Toledano, Sally Kittredge Evans, and Mary Louise Christovich, "Types and Styles," in New Orleans Architecture, vol. IV (Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing, 1974), 71-72; John Michael Vlach, "The Shotgun House: An African Architectural Legacy," in Common Places: Readings in American Vernacular Architecture, ed. Dell Upton and John Michael Vlach (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1986), 58-77; McAlester and McAlester, 90.

113The Shotgun House (Louisville: Preservation Alliance of Louisville and Jefferson County, 1980), 5-7; Toledano, et al., 71-72.

114Catalog of Historic Structures, 66-68.

115Catalog of Historic Structures, 56-64, 84-89.

116The three-story second Grant Building of 1876, located at the corner of Marietta and Forsyth Streets, and the five-story Moore-Marsh Building of 1881, located at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Pryor Street, combined elements of Italianate design with High Victorian Gothic decorative motifs. Both buildings have been demolished.

117City of Atlanta (map), Construction Department, Fulton County, Georgia (Atlanta: City of Atlanta, 1930), 25; Insurance map of Atlanta (New York: Sanborn-Perris Map Company, 1911), 459.

118Ambrose, et al., Part I, 2-19.

119William H. Pierson, Jr., Technology and the Picturesque, the Corporate and the Early Gothic Styles, vol. 2 of American Buildings and Their Architects (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 100.

120Andrew Jackson Downing, Cottage Residence, Rural Architecture and Landscape Gardening (New York, 1842), and The Architecture of Country Houses (New York, 1850).

121National Register Bulletin 15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1991), 17.

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Last Updated: 26-Oct-2002