Historic West Hunter Street Baptist Church

West Hunter Street Baptist Church was founded in 1881 as Mount Calvary Baptist Church. The congregation’s Gothic Revival stone sanctuary was constructed in 1906 at the corner of West Hunter Street (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive) and Chestnut Street (now James P. Brawley Drive). Beginning in 1961, under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Sr., it served as a strategic and emotional headquarters of the Civil Rights Movement.

Ralph David Abernathy, a young Baptist minister, befriended and partnered with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Montgomery, with the Montgomery Bus Boycott and then the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Abernathy family was encouraged by the King family to move to Georgia and become pastor of West Hunter Street Baptist Church. Abernathy served as pastor from 1961 until his death in 1990, during that time moving the congregation to a new and larger facility.

West Hunter Street Baptist Church’s building served as a spiritual meeting place and key location for the Civil Rights Movement. Students gathered and trained there, members worked for the movement, and Abernathy and King held strategy meetings in the office. In the 1970s, the building hosted operations aimed to elect Atlanta’s first black mayor (Maynard Jackson) and Georgia’s first black congressman (Andrew Young).