Tourists and National Park Service guides were barred Friday from visiting the house where Martin Luther King Jr. was born.

King's family banished the Park Service, which had run the tours of the site for 11 years, in an escalating dispute over control of the slain civil rights leader's legacy.Rangers kept up their usual schedule of free tours elsewhere in the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic District. However, only a few visitors showed up.

"We have a job to do. We don't know anything else," said Troy Lissimore, who heads the Park Service staff that conducts the tours. "We'll sit on the sidewalk and do it if we have to."

Park Service guides also were barred from King's crypt, although people could visit it on their own. King's birthplace house was closed to everyone. The Park Service offered a 22-minute slide presentation at a house it owns across the street.

One of King's sons, Dexter Scott King, said at a news conference Wednesday that the King Center staff would take over the tours. He didn't say when or what it plans to charge for tours.

The site attracts more than 1 million visitors a year. The park service, which operates a small visitors center nearby, has eight to 10 staffers running tours every day, as often as every half hour, spokesman Paul Winegar said.

The dispute centers on the agency's plan to build an $11.8 million visitors center on federal land across the street from the King Center in time for the 1996 Olympics. The King family wants to build an interactive museum at the same site.

"We maintain that the King Center, not the federal government, should be the guardian of the legacy," said Dexter King.

"Their intent is to annex this area to control the dissemination of history," he said. "Our history has always been diluted. We can tell our history. We know best."