Last year, the city approved the demolition of the four-unit apartment building in Vine City despite resident complaints — many of them citing the home's importance 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 in 2019.
The 220 Sunset Ave. home was built in 1948 by family patriarch Rev. Maynard Holbrook Jackson Sr. His widow, Irene Dobbs Jackson, owned the home until 1965. In 1973, Maynard Jackson was elected as the first black mayor of a major Southern city. Atlanta’s airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, bears his name along with that of another former Atlanta mayor, William B. Hartsfield.
Demolition plans were eventually halted after Vine City residents, Bernice King and the U.S. National Park Service agreed to study if the home could be saved. Bernice King previously said the home contained asbestos, was structurally unsound, and had a caved-in roof, among other issues.
Credit: Casey Sykes
Credit: Casey Sykes
Plans for the property call for the Westside Future Fund to lease the property to the Atlanta University Center to house graduate students, researchers, and faculty studying Atlanta’s Civil Rights Movement and leadership. Once the property has been restored, the AUC will identify potential tenants and oversee the selection process.
The Westside Future Fund will also apply for historic status from the State Historic Preservation Office to help preserve the building.
“We understand the cultural history attached to the homes located on Atlanta’s Westside. Preservation remains a key priority,” the organization’s CEO and President John Ahmann said in a statement. “A number of our city’s African American leadership - past and present - were raised in these neighborhoods.”
The building’s restoration is expected to begin by October.
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