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Our History

Sweet History

Sweet Auburn is home to businesses, residents, and institutions, including the National Park Service, Georgia State University, and a number of churches.

More than 1 million+ visitors come each year to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

GSU’s 30,000+ students pass through this neighborhood every day on their way to class. New businesses have opened, with more on the way. And investors are eyeing properties in the neighborhood with plans to invest.

We are also home to the Atlanta Streetcar, which provides a convenient way to travel between the Sweet Auburn historic district, the heart of downtown Atlanta, downtown attractions, and Georgia State University.


The first black-owned office building in Atlanta was the Rucker Building (see above) at the corner of Auburn and Piedmont, constructed in 1904 by businessman and politician Henry A. Rucker.

Brown Boy Bottling Company was the nation’s first black-owned so drink firm.

The National Medical Association, the first organization representing African American physicians and health professionals in America, was founded at the First Congregational Church in 1895.

Big Bethel AME Church, the first African-American church in Atlanta, the congregation dates back to at least 1847, became an AME church after the Civil War.

C.C. Hart, one of the founding investors of Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Co., was the first licensed black plumber in Atlanta.

WERD Atlanta was the first radio station owned and operated by African-Americans, starting in 1949.

The Atlanta Daily World, founded in 1928 and became a daily in 1932, was the first successful black-owned daily newspaper in America.


Theodore “Tiger” Flowers (see right) , a deacon at the Bulter Street CME church and thus very much a part of the Sweet Auburn community, was the first African-American middleweight boxing champion.

The Top Hat Club, which later became the Royal Peacock, was the first integrated nightclub in Atlanta.

Founded in 1881 by a group from Big Bethel AME Church, Morris Brown College / University was the first institution of higher learning in Georgia organized by and for African Americans.

In 1879, the Gate City Colored School, the first public school for African Americans in Atlanta, was founded in the basement of Big Bethel.

Our Lady of Lourdes was the first African-American Catholic church in Atlanta.

The first African-American Girl Scout troop in Atlanta met at the Atlanta Daily World building in 1943.


In the 1930’s Citizens Trust Bank (founded by Heman Perry, see right) became the first African American-owned bank to become a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

In 1948 Citizens Trust became the first African American-owned bank to join the Federal Reserve Bank.

Atlanta State Savings Bank opened in 1913, the first chartered black bank in Georgia.

Standard Life Insurance Co., established by Heman Perry, was the first legal reserve company among African Americans.

Consolidated Company was the first black small loan company licensed by the state.

Jesse B. Blayton, Sr. was the first black CPA in America.

T.M. Alexander established Southeastern Fidelity Fire and Casualty Company, the first black casualty insurance brokerage company in the South.

Alonzo Herndon started the city’s first black-owned life insurance company, Atlanta Mutual, later Atlanta Life Insurance Company.