Atlanta youth begin restoration work at Herndon Home

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced today that important maintenance and repair work will begin at The Alonzo Herndon Home Museum in Atlanta, the historic home of Atlanta’s first black millionaire and founder of Atlanta Life Insurance Company.

Under the umbrella of the Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF), the National Trust is bringing its HOPE Crew program to the perform work on the property, part of its partnership with the Fund II Foundation to engage African American youth in learning preservation trades at sites tied to African American achievement and activism.

“The historic Herndon Home, owned by one of the most prominent black families in Atlanta’s history, provides a lens to explore and engage with the city’s role as a center for Black business, education, and culture,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

“We are excited to introduce Atlanta’s youth to the Herndon Home where they will gain tangible preservation experience in the conservation of African American historic places.”

The crew members will be provided by Greening Youth Foundation, a black-owned nonprofit youth corps based in Atlanta. Over a period of several days, the all-African American team will carefully repair, scrape, and re-paint the back porch and elements of the home’s front façade under the supervision of a local master craftsman.

“The Herndon Home Museum deeply values this opportunity to further increase the awareness and appreciation of the significance of the Herndon family legacy and provide for the preservation and care of the Herndon Home Museum and collection,” said Julissa White-Smith, director of the Herndon Home Museum.

HOPE (Hands-On-Preservation-Experience) Crew was created by the National Trust in 2014 to provide young people preservation trades training in window restoration, masonry repair, and other skills at historic sites–primarily those located in national parks.

The grant from Fund II Foundation enables HOPE Crew to expand beyond national parks to proactively engage diverse youth in preserving places tied to African American activism and achievement nationwide.

“Rising from slavery to become one of the wealthiest African Americans in the South by 1927, Alonzo Herndon exemplifies the best of what our community can achieve and contribute,” says Linda Wilson, executive director, Fund II Foundation.

“Herndon built a business empire, a part of which still exists today, 114 years later. His empire not only enriched his life, but the lives of those in the community he served through good business practices and civic responsibility.”

Other past and upcoming HOPE Crew activities made possible with Fund II support include preservation projects at the Nina Simone Childhood Home in Tryon, N.C., the Pittsburgh home of author August Wilson, the home of John and Alice Coltrane in Long Island and six-week intensive internships for architecture students enrolled at two HBCUs—part of Fund II Foundation’s commitment to diversifying STEM fields of education.

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