The home—which sits at 220 Sunset Avenue in the Vine City neighborhood—was constructed 72 years ago by Jackson’s father Rev. Maynard Holbrook Jackson Sr. Following his death in 1953, his wife Irene Dobbs Jackson maintained ownership of the property for 12 years. Decades passed and the historic home began to deteriorate. It was slated to be demolished until Bernice King—the youngest child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King—The King Center, and the U.S. National Park Service stepped in to see if it could potentially be saved. The King Center sold the four-unit building to a nonprofit dubbed the Westside Future Fund. The Atlanta-based organization leads neighborhood revitalization projects in historic areas throughout the city.
The reimagined property will now serve as affordable housing for researchers and graduate students who are affiliated with the Atlanta University Center. The apartments will be made available to individuals who are researching Atlanta’s contributions to the civil rights movement. The Westside Future Fund also plans on seeking landmark status for the building. “We understand the cultural history attached to the homes located on Atlanta’s Westside. Preservation remains a key priority,” said the organization’s CEO and President John Ahmann. “A number of our city’s African American leadership, past and present, were raised in these neighborhoods.”
The home stands in a community that is intertwined with Black history. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family lived on the same street. The project will break ground in October.
There has been a major push to preserve historic Black structures that are embedded in the fabric of American history. In 2019, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that $1.6 million in grants will go towards its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund to protect 22 Black sites and organizations.