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Atlanta Life Insurance Co.
142-148 Auburn Avenue
Sweet Auburn Historic District, Atlanta, Georgia


1. Atlanta Life Insurance Company Main Building.
Original Owner: Alonzo Herndon
Built: pre-1892
Architectural style: Neo-classical façade added in 1927.
Contractor: A.H. Aiken
Original Use: Originally a residence, this structure housed the Atlanta Life Insurance Company from 1920-1980.
Re-adaptive Use: Waiting for renovation.


2. Atlanta Life Insurance Company Annex.
Original owner/builder: Alonzo Herndon
Built: 1936
Architectural style: Neo-classical
Original Use: This structure, along with the main building, housed the Atlanta Life Insurance Company from 1936- 

                          1980. In 1980 the company moved to the adjacent modern building in the photo at left.
Re-adaptive Use: Waiting for renovation.


In 1905, after extraordinary success in barber shops and real estate, Alonzo Herndon was approached by two prominent black church pastors. One of them, Rev. Peter Bryant of Wheat Street Baptist Church, had recently formed the Atlanta Benevolent & Protective Association and was in dire need of capital. Herndon agreed to buy the small benevolent association for $140 and, with the acquisition and reorganization of two other companies in September of that year, formed the Atlanta Mutual Insurance Association, later to be the Atlanta Life Insurance Company


Through one acquisition and merger after another, Atlanta Life grew. The clients of small, failing companies, who were in jeopardy of losing their policies, were given reprieves when taken over by Atlanta Life. Confidence in the company and in Herndon's ability and judgment grew. An editor of the Atlanta Independent newspaper, wrote, "When people buy a policy in Atlanta Life they are buying Alonzo Herndon."


In 1920, the company moved to 148 Auburn Avenue and in 1980 moved from these aging facilities to a new corporate structure next door.


Upon Mr. Herndon's death in 1927, his son, Norris B. Herndon, became president, leading the company to unprecedented growth following the Depression. The tradition of business excellence and community service continued with Jesse Hill, Jr. (Butler Street was renamed after him in 2002), who succeeded to the presidency in 1973 and was sustained by Don Royster, Sr., who in 1992 became the company's fourth president. Charles Cornelius, becoming the fifth president and chief executive officer in June 1996, carries on the company's proud legacy.



Credit for several direct quotes within the above information (also the present-day website of Atlanta Life Insurance Co.): .

Back To The History of Auburn Ave

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