National Park Foundation buys Dr. King’s boyhood home

By Frederick H. Lowe


The National Park Foundation, the philanthropic partner of the National Park Service, has purchased Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s boyhood home in Atlanta from the King Center, which has owned the building since 1973.

The National Park Foundation closed the transaction on November 27th,  transferring the home’s ownership to the National Park Service, organization officials announced December 15.  The price of the deal was not disclosed, but news reports said the building cost $1.9 million.

Dr. King’s boyhood home

The two-story home, which is painted yellow with brown trim, with a fenced-in  porch and peaked roof, is located in Sweet Auburn, a black middle-class neighborhood. Additional details about the transaction will be disclosed on Dr. King’s holiday.

Years ago, a park ranger took me and my then wife on a tour of the home.

Because so many visitors from around the world toured the building, the ranger told us that the floors had to be reinforced.

The National Park Service closed the home to tours from March 8, 2017 to March 27, 2017. The building’s second floor had been closed since August 2015 because of structural concerns. The second floor was later re-opened.

Dr. King, who was named Michael King, Jr., at time of his birth, was born and raised in the home and lived there for the first 12 years of his life.

His father, Michael King Sr., changed their first and second names to Martin Luther after visiting Germany during the 1930s, where he learned about Martin Luther, the German professor of theology, who sparked the Protestant Reformation.

Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis, attacking the Catholic Church’s corrupt practice of selling indulgences to absolve sin to the front door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, on October 1517.  This eventually led to the break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Dr. King’s home has a welcome and familiar feel. I walked into the kitchen and saw a box Kellogg’s Corn Flakes sitting on the kitchen counter. I never expected such a great man to eat normal.

The purchase of Dr. King’s boyhood home is designed to give visitors more access to American history. The National Park Foundation also has purchased the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument and the Freedom Riders National Monument.


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