CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A fire destroyed the former home of Dr. Martin Luther King in Camden, New Jersey early Saturday morning.
It happened around 3 a.m. on the 700 block of Walnut Street.
The Action Cam arrived as heavy flames were showing from the top floor of the home.
Dianna Jones, 79, has lived on Walnut Street in Camden for a long time. When the home went up in flames, it brought her to tears.
"My heart just kind of melted," said Jones.
She fears the plans to get the home on the state and national historic registries are in jeopardy.
"I said, 'Well I guess my dreams of seeing it before I die are going out the tubes now,'" said Jones.
But on Saturday we heard otherwise.
"Literally we're going to stay pedal to the metal, go right ahead with our project," said Pastor Amir Khan.
He's in charge of the nonprofit called New Beginnings that owns the home.
"What our plans are is to let this be a museum and also call it the 'Martin Luther King Center for Social Justice.' We'll do tours where children and adults can come in and walk and see where Dr. King slept, drank, prepared his messages," said Khan.
They also have plans for the vacant lot next door.
"We're going to build a 10,000 square foot facility where they can walk in, very similar to what's in Atlanta at the King Center," said Khan.
Pastor Khan says Dr. King spent time at the New Jersey home from 1948 to 1951 while studying at the Crozer Theological Seminary.
It was during that time he says Dr. King performed his first civil rights protest.
"The most significant thing was on June 11, 1950, when they went to Mary's Cafe on Route 73 to order some ginger ales, they would not be served," said Khan.
A historical marker is planted at that location today.
"At that time, the owner of the cafe was charged and found guilty. That's huge to have two young Black men from down south to come up here and use a newly enacted law and win," said Khan.
The pastor says the home is still structurally sound and this may have been a blessing in disguise.
"We have people calling us from all around the country that are interested in helping out," said Khan.
Neighbors say they hope the help keeps pouring in.
"To have something like that, rebuild it and restore it, that was something I was like, 'I'm proud of it,'" said neighbor Darryl Kamson-Macklin.
"Camden is losing its treasures, its cultural icons, we need to save as many as possible," said neighbor Christoff Lindsay.