The Herndon Family-Atlanta, Georgia

Fulton County
The Herndon Home Museum

Completed in 1910, the Herndon Home was the residence of Alonzo Herndon and his family. Herndon was the first Black millionaire in Atlanta and one of the first in the United States. He built his wealth by running several successful barbershops in Atlanta and starting the Atlanta Family Life Insurance Company.

Herndon was born into slavery in 1858 in Social Circle, Walton County, Georgia. After Emancipation, he left Social Circle and began work as a farmhand, and learned how to barber in Jonesboro, Georgia.

He eventually moved to Atlanta, where he began his barbershop business. He helped save a mutual aid association, which eventually evolved into the Atlanta Life Insurance Company.

Atlanta Life Insurance Building on Auburn Avenue

Designed by Adrienne Herndon, a professor at Atlanta University and Alonzo’s first wife, the two-story, 15-room Classical Revival mansion with Beaux-Arts influences was built by local Black craftsmen. It was added on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2000.

Upon his death, Herndon’s son Norris took over Atlanta Life Insurance and built upon his father’s success by turning it into a multi-million-dollar business.

The Herndon family is buried in Southview Cemetery.

Coins left on a grave are left to show that someone recently visited and paid their respects.
Alonzo Herndon’s second wife
Updated to add: This is Sophenie Herndon’s grave. She is Alonzo’s mother and is buried in Herndon Cemetery in Social Circle. The bottom of her headstone says, “Erected by A. F. and Tom Herndon.”

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