On June 11, 2019, the National Trust's Hands-On Preservation Experience (HOPE Crew) program completed a project 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 African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (AACHAF), HOPE Crew performed 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 Action Fund.
The crew members were 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 carefully repaired, scraped, and re-painted the back porch and elements of the home's front facade under the supervision of a local master craftsman.
“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.”
Through this and several more projects occurring throughout summer 2019 (including the Pittsburgh home of author August Wilson, the home of John and Alice Coltrane in Long Island, Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and six-week intensive internships for architecture students enrolled at two HBCUs), the Action Fund and HOPE Crew will work to proactively engage diverse youth in preserving places tied to African American activism and achievement nationwide.