Alonzo Herndon began construction on this beautiful home atop “Diamond Hill” in 1908. It was substantially complete when Adrienne Herndon, his wife died after a brief illness in 1910. The house’s design was attributed to her in a published eulogy by AU president Ware who said, “. . . no architect drew the plan. She was the decorator. I believe there is not in this great city a home more beautiful.” The entire community took pride in the home, and over the years. A custom mural in the living room of the museum depicts the completion of the home as the pinnacle of a life which began in a slave cabin.
In terms of opulence of its architecture, the house does not disappoint any of its illustrious nicknames. The museum is monumental in scale and may generally be described as Beaux-Arts classical in style. Many features of that French academic idiom are seen in the exterior: three- part facade composition of base, fenestrated wall and crowning entablature; paired colossal columns framing the late entry; and late Renaissance balustrades. A covered verandah and porte cochere are Southern architectural necessities used to balance the central square mass of the house in tripartite symmetry.
Clearly, the home had no peer among black neighborhoods, but found instead its equals among the great estates of Peachtree Road and in Druid Hills. That some 80 years after it was built, this stately home is no longer occupied by this remarkable family. Now a museum dedicated to their dream reveals the rocky societal shoals that separated the house and its builders from life among their true peers. The museum now stands as a beautifully restored monument to this exceptional family and to dreams which they achieved, and which persist through the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation and its preservation of a true Atlanta landmark.