Historic Martin Luther King Home To Become A National Landmark

Elijah C. Watson Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When…
Historic Martin Luther King Home To Become A National Landmark
Photo Credit: Flip Schulke / Corbis

Historic Martin Luther King Home To Become A National Landmark

A vacant house in Camden, New Jersey, that once belonged to iconic civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., has avoided demolition and will soon get some necessary repairs.

In a report from NJ.com, MLK once listed the address (753 Walnut Street) of the house in a police report, after he and his friends were refused service at the Maple Shade Restaurant in 1950.

Jeanette Hunter, the owner of the home, received a demolition notice in July of this year, but has fortunately reached an agreement with non profit Cooper’s Ferry Partnership to preserve the historic home. The house was identified as King’s residence in the 1950s by a local historian named Patrick Duff.

“I’m proud that I was able to bring our community together to help restore and save this important piece of American history,” Rep. Donald Norcross said in a statement. “We owe it to future generations to ensure this national treasure is safeguarded for many years to come.”

The Camden Historical Society is expected to list the home as a historic property during its next meeting.

Cooper’s Ferry Partnership will take over as the custodian to repair the house, and a search for an organization to maintain the property will begin.

“It’s obvious this house is critical to our past and needs to be preserved for the future. We’re proud to be partners making this a reality,” Anthony Perno, CEO of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, said.

The discussion of how to preserve the house’s history has been around since January of last year, when The Central Record first reported on the property. Duff had discovered the history of the residence, as well as the incident in which MLK ultimately listed the house in a police report.

He uncovered a moment in which MLK, then a college student in Camden, was refused service at a bar called Mary’s Cafe.

“Just think if that never happened at Mary’s Cafe, blacks may not be able to go to the same hospital as whites now,” Duff said in the article.

Nevertheless, it’s reassuring to know that this piece of history is getting the preservation it deserves.

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