The Recovering Attorney’s History Minute-Meet Alonzo Herndon, Former Slave and Later Businessman Extraordinaire!

Sunday, September 11, 2011, the Atlanta History Center is recognizing the life and times of Alonzo Herndon with its Centennial Celebration of the Herndon Home and the Celebration of 100 Years of the Herndon Legacy.  And a legacy it is.

Alonzo Herndon (1858-1927), was an Atlantan entrepreneur extraordinaire becoming the first Black millionaire in Georgia.  Born the son of a slave and a white slave master, the young Alonzo his mother, Sophenie, his brother and his maternal grandmother entered emancipation like many former slaves—with little more then the clothes on their backs.  The Herndon story is an interesting one worth a read:

When my family was new to Atlanta, and Precious Child I was just a wee-one (where did the time go? *sigh*), and there was no Precious Child II  ( can’t imagine life without PCII–*le sigh*), we visited the Herndon home on many occasions.  The tours were intimate, inspiring and free of charge.  The historic Herndon home was always on our list of places to take visiting family and friends.

However, the lack of funds and community support lead to the unfortunate shuttering of the home.  When I learned of the close, I was saddened–when opened, many did not know of its existence.  With its closing, I believed that the home was to be forever lost to history.  The home, located on a quiet unassuming street on the outskirts of the Atlanta University Center (Spelman, Morehouse, Morris Brown and Clark Atlanta), is an important part of American history and I am ecstatic about its rebirth!  Guided tours are conducted hourly from 10am-4pm on Tuesday and Thursday and by appointment.  AND, I am happy to write that there is now a fee for admission—perhaps this nominal fee will assist in keeping the home open for many years to come. When in Atlanta, I highly recommend a visit. I am sure that the home has been meticulously restored to its former glory.


The Herndon home was built in 1910 by Alonzo Franklin Herndon founder of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, and his wife, Adrienne Mitchell Herndon, a professor at Atlanta University.  The home is a National Historic Landmark, and one of a number of historic properties in America that have exceptional value in the heritage of the United States.  Built exclusively by Black craftsmen, the 15-room house, Italianate Beaux Arts Classical in style, is a fine example of high society dwellings at the turn of the century.  Norris Herndon, the only child of Alonzo and Adrienne, traveled extensively throughout Europe and Africa where he collected antiquities and decorative arts for the home for what he envisioned as a museum in honor of his parents.


1.  The Herndons:  Alonzo, Adrienne and Norris

2.  Alonzo Herndon pictured in front of his former home

3.  Exterior view of the Herndon home

4.  Interior view of the “Pink Music Room”

5.  Present day Atlanta Life Building, Auburn Avenue, Atlanta

COPYRIGHT 2011.  The Recovering Attorney Un-Blog(tm).  All Rights Reserved.  And I will sue.  Ha!

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