Plans to demolish the home of former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson Jr. — the city’s first black mayor — have been placed on hold after King Center CEO Bernice King and the U.S. National Park Service met with Vine City neighbors and agreed to study whether the home could be saved.
“Ultimately, the outcome is not in The King Center’s hands alone,” King said in a statement. “But we temporarily postponed the demolition and asked the U.S. National Park Service and its charitable partner National Park Foundation to work with us in supporting the community’s effort to perform due diligence and explore the acquisition and preservation of 220 Sunset.”
Last week, King said the four-unit apartment building at 220 Sunset Avenue was “filled with asbestos, is structurally unsound, has a caved-in roof, unstable bearings and flooring, and rapidly decaying bricks,” and needed to be demolished.
However, she put the plans on hold after speaking with Vine City residents.
“This is a teachable moment for all of us as we continue to discover and attempt to preserve missing and overlooked history,” King said.
The home, which is owned by The King Center, is currently under a “conditional sale” to the National Park Foundation which will eventually deed it to the National Park Service.
News of the postponed demolition was welcomed by Bishop John H. Lewis III, chairman of the Vine City Civic Association, who reportedly spoke against the demolition.
“We realize that many do not know the rich history of the home and hope our efforts can tell the story,” Lewis said in the statement. “I am thankful that we have been able to come together in the spirit of love and unity. We hope to quickly assess the building’s condition and raise funds to acquire and restore the (home).”
Residents long claimed the home was important to Atlanta’s black history. The historic street is also where civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and wife Coretta Scott King raised their four children. That home — at 234 Sunset Avenue — was sold to the U.S. National Park Service earlier this year.
King said Vine City is her home, but said she was surprised to learn Jackson lived there as a young boy.
The former Jackson home was built in 1948 by family patriarch Rev. Maynard Holbrook Jackson Sr. His widow, Irene Dobbs Jackson, owned the home until 1965.
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