The West Hunter Street Baptist Church, best known for its history as the home pulpit of Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy from 1962 to 1972 and for its place in the civil rights movement, is now housed in a large structure on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard in southwest Atlanta.
However, the church's historic home is a crumbling structure at the corner of James P. Brawley Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive -- or what was historically known as West Hunter Street. The building currently stands abandoned.
During the 1950s and 60s, West Hunter Street was part of the center of Atlanta's black community. The church was adjacent to Morris Brown College and only blocks away from Morehouse College and Spelman College.
The historic Paschal's Hotel and Restaurant were nearby, and other black-owned establishments lined the Hunter and Ashby corridors.
From the halls and pews of West Hunter Street, efforts to desegregate Atlanta's public transportation took root. Abernathy worked together with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Hosea Williams, and others to head non-violent movements across the nation, meeting at West Hunter Street and other nearby establishments to organize their efforts.
In 2014, Congress commissioned the National Park Service to conduct a multi-year study of the national significance of the site, suitability and feasibility of designating the building as a unit of the National Park System.
John Ahmann of the Westside Future Fund views West Hunter Street Baptist as a landmark on its own.
"I think the best case scenario is that it is fully restored and becomes a great site for folks to visit and get educated and learn about the wonderful leadership that came out of the church and the important role that the Abernathys played in our civil rights movement," Ahmann said.
Workers are restoring the airy sanctuary that filled up to hear Abernathy's weekly sermons. They've already repaired a roof that had failed from years of neglect. Some damaged glass windows remain on the to-do list.
The building became vacant when Abernathy and his flock moved to the much larger sanctuary on what is now Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard a few miles away.
The location of the historic sanctuary building is about a mile west of Mercedes Benz Stadium on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.