Completed in 1910, the Herndon Home was the residence of African American entreprenuer and business man Alonzo Herndon and his family. Herdon was a former slave raised in a sharecropping family after the Civil War. The Herndon home is a two-story, 15-room Beaux Arts mansion built by local black craftsmen. The home was primarily designed by Adrienne Herndon, Alonzo’s first wife and a teacher at Atlanta University. The couple had one son, Norris. Adrienne died of Addison’s disease just three months after the home was completed. The residence was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000.
Alonzo Herndon studied barbering, and owned and managed a string of barbershops in downtown Atlanta after the Civil War, one of which was considered to be the most elegant in the country with marble floors and chandelier. Investing his income into real estate, Herndon became the largest black property owner in Atlanta by 1900. Later, Herndon founded the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, located in the Sweet Auburn Historic District, and became Atlanta’s first black millionaire.
Left to right: Alonzo Hernon, unidentified man, Clara Simkins, unidentified woman, Norris Herndon, Adrienne Herndon, John Henry Bailey, and Thomas Herndon
After Alonzo’s death in 1927, his son Norris assumed the presidency of Atlanta Life Insurance. During this period the company experienced its greatest growth. Norris lived in the Herndon Home for much of his life, and filled it with many decorative arts from his travels to Europe, as well as keeping his parents original furnishings. In 1947, Norris established the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon foundation, a charitable trust which operates the home today as a museum recounting this family’s phenomenal rise from slavery to leadership of the nation’s black business community.
The Herndon Home is located at 587 University Pl., NW, in Atlanta. Guided tours are conducted hourly from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Tuesdays and Thursdays and by appointment only on Saturdays. There is a fee for admission. Call 404-581-9813 or visit the Herndon Home website for further information.
Herndon Home Museum
587 University Place NW, Atlanta, GA 30314 USA
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