The Dexter Parsonage Museum, historic home to twelve pastors of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church from 1920-1992, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It was restored in 2003 by the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Foundation, Inc., under the direction of church members, acting as an Authentication Committee.
Visitors to the Dexter Parsonage Museum will experience the actual residence where Dr. King and his young family lived between 1954 and 1960; an Interpretive Center, and the King-Johns Garden for Reflection. Parking is available for cars and tour buses.
The Interpretive Center, located adjacent to the Parsonage, features a gift shop, restroom facilities and an orientation room for viewing videos and discussion groups on Dr. King’s family, community, and pastoral life. The permanent exhibit in the Interpretive Center includes a timeline of photographs of the 12 Dexter pastors who lived in the Parsonage, a wall of Pastoral Wisdom (inspiring quotes from several pastors), unpublished photographs of Dr. King, Dexter members, civic/business leaders, and Montgomery ministers active in the bus boycott; and historical accounts on the bombing of the Parsonage and other significant events.
The nine-room clapboard Parsonage, built in 1912, has been restored to its appearance when Dr. King and his family lived there. Much of the furniture presently in the the living room, dining room, bedroom and study was actually used by Dr. King.
The King-Johns Garden for Reflection
The King-Johns Garden for Reflection, located at the rear of the Dexter Parsonage Museum, is nestled in a magnolia tree-lined garden, featuring a sea of white azaleas and crape myrtles. Designed with a circular walkway, symbolizing unity, it provides a quiet space for tourists to reflect on the teachings of two of Dexter’s most renowned ministers.
Many believe that it was by Divine Intervention that those two ministers — VERNON JOHNS (1947-1952) and MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (1954-1960) — had consecutive pastorates on the eve of the modern Civil Rights Movement. They were men of action, deeply rooted in philosophy and religious faith. Rev. Johns urged his congregation to fight oppression by becoming economically independent; he believed that self-determination was the hallmark of a people’s claim to freedom. Dr. King taught non-violent resistance to oppression as a means of achieving social and political parity. Both men believed that the blessings of liberty were secured by direct action. In the serenity of this garden, you are invited to reflect upon six timeless themes about which Rev. Johns and Dr. King often preached, lectured, and wrote: