State of Illinois - County of Cook

In the Circuit Court of Cook County

Anna M. Lee, et al vs. Paul A. Hansberry,[1] et al

Gen. No. 37C 6804 Complaint in Equity

Complaint to Enforce Restrictive Agreement Injunction and Other Relief


This electronic transcription was created by Wendy Plotkin, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of History. The source is a typed document included in the bound and numbered collection of documents and transcribed testimony of the Circuit Court case of Hansberry v. Lee used by the Illinois Supreme Court in its trial of the same case. These are located at the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield, Illinois.

Two page numbers relating to the original printed version of this electronic document are included: the typed number of the document itself, and the stamped number reflecting the location of this document within the transcripts and documents collected for the Illinois Supreme Court.


ANNA M. LEE, a widow, Edward L. Govanus, Esther Govanus, his wife, Louise G. Anderson, a widow, Lyman M. Anderson, her son, Kathryn Luttrell, plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and on behalf of other plaintiffs similarly situated, by Charles A. Churan, their attorney, complain of Paul A. Hansberry [sic], Nannie L. Hansberry, his wife, Jay B. Crook, Hallie C. Crook, his wife, James Joseph Burke, Harry H. Pace, Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, a corporation, Israel Katz, W. T. Mooney and Elizabeth Cotsones, defendants, and say:

  1. That plaintiffs are all residents of the city of Chicago, County of Cook and State of Illinois; that on, to wit: the 30th day of September, A.D. 1927, more than five hundred white persons, owners of real estate on the one or other side of Champlain, St. Lawrence, Rhodes, Eberhart, Vernon, and South Park Avenues, between 60th Street on the north and the first public alley north of 63rd Street on the south (except those parts of Champlain and Langley Avenues and 60th street owned by the Board of Education of the City of Chicago, occupied by Austin O. Sexton Public School) and on 60th, 61st and 62nd Streets between South Park Avenues and the alleys immediately west of Cottage Grove Avenue, and on both sides of Langley Avenue and Evans Avenue between 61st Street and the first public alley north of 63rd Street, in the City of Chicago, County of Cook and State of Illinois,

    [Page 2 of Complaint; Page 4 of Transcript]
    entered into a written agreement with each other that until January 1st, 1948, their respective real estate in said area (commonly known as the Washington Park Subdivision) consisting of nineteen contiguous and adjacent city blocks and six contiguous and adjacent city half blocks, should be subject to certain restrictions and provisions against use, occupation or ownership of real estate in said area by negroes, or persons commonly known as colored persons; and against the sale, conveyance or leasing of any part of said premises to any negro or negroes, or persons commonly known as colored persons. That said restrictive agreement (hereinafter for brevity referred to as Restrictive Agreement) is in words and figures as follows: to wit: [Racial Restrictive Covenant of Washington Park Subdivision, attached]

    [Page 5 of Complaint; Page 7 of Transcript]
  2. That is provided in said Restrictive Agreement that said Agreement should be in full force and effect when the said Agreement or a substantially similar agreement should be signed by the owners therein enumerated of ninety-five per centum of the frontage above described, and recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds of Cook County, Illinois, on or before December 31st, 1928.
  3. That ninety-five per centum of the owners of the frontage above described, signed, sealed and acknowledged said Restrictive Agreement, and thereafter the same was duly filed for record in the Recorder's Office of said County on February 1, A.D. 1928, and recorded in Book 25525, of Records at pages 5 to 31 inclusive as Document 9914711, and on pages 32 to 52 inclusive as Document 9914712, and on pages 53 to 115 inclusive as Document 9914713, and on pages 117 to 187 inclusive as Document 9914714, thereby complying in all respects with the conditions in said agreement contained with respect to the execution and recordation thereof.

    [Page 6 of Complaint; Page 8 of Transcript]
  4. That is provided in said Restrictive Agreement that the covenants, restrictions and agreements therein contained should be binding on, and for the benefit of, and may be enforced by and against each party thereto, his successors and assigns, and the heirs, executors, administrators and successors of them respectively.
  5. That on to wit: the date of the execution of said restrictive agreement, and on the date of the recording thereof, and up to and including the 30th day of March, A.D. 1933, Eva Somerman was the owner of record of the following described real estate, to wit:

Lot Twenty-seven (27) in Block Two (2) in Resubdivision of Blocks Eleven (11) and Twelve (12) in Resubdivision of the Washington Park Club Addition to Chicago in the South half (S-1/2) of the South East Quarter (SE-1/4) of Section Fifteen (15), Township Thirty-eigh (38) [sic] North, Range Fourteen (14), East of the Third (3rd) Principal Meridian, commonly known as 6140 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

  1. That said real estate was then and is now improved with a three story and basement brick apartment residence; that said real estate is situated within the area covered by said restrictive agreement; that Eva Somerman executed and acknowledged said agreement before the recordation thereof; that said real estate was known in said restrictive agreement as parcel No. 264; that up to about the 3rd day of May, 1937, the said Eva Somerman and Sam Somerman, her husband occupied the first floor apartment of said real estate, and that up to wit: the 26th date of May, 1937, the said premises were owned and occupied by white person [sic] exclusively; that said Eva Somerman and her husband conveyed said premises to one Joseph G. Stoltz by quit claim deed dated March 30, 1933, recorded March 31, 1933; that said Joseph G. Stoltz by quit-claim deed dated March 31, 1933, recorded April 27, 1933, conveyed said premises to the First National Bank of Englewood, a corporation;

    [Page 7 of Complaint; Page 9 of Transcript]
    that the defendant James Joseph Burke, acting on behalf of the defendants Paul A. Hansberry, a negro and Harry H. Pace, a negro attorney and Secretary of the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, a corporation, fradulently [sic] and knowlingly [sic] and deceitfully represented to said First National Bank of Englewood, or its officers, that said premises would not be sold to a negro or negroes, and by such fraud, deceit and misrepresentations induced the officers of said First National Bank of Englewood, a corporation, to execute a conveyance of said premises to the defendant Jay B. Crook, a white person, which conveyance was made by quit-claim deed from the said First National Bank of Englewood under the belief and with the distinct understanding that said sale was not to be to a negro; that said defendant Jay B. Crook is a white person, but that said Jay B. Crook well knew when he accepted the deed from said First National Bank of Englewood, dated May 15, 1937, recorded May 26, 1937, that said premises were actually being purchased for and on behalf of the defendant Paul A. Hansberry; purchased for and on behalf of the defendant Paul A. Hansberry; that in fact the said Jay B. Crook was then in unlawful conspiracy and combination to violate said restrictive agreement with the defendant Harry H. Pace, a negro, the secretary of the defendant Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, and to procure a loan on said premises from said Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company; that the deed from said Bank to said Crook was escrowed with the Chicago Title & Trust Company of Chicago, and was not delivered to said Jay B. Crook until May 26, 1937, but that on May 19, 1937, six days before the delivery to him of said deed, did [sic] Jay B. Crook, with his wife Hallie C. Croo [sic], executed and delivered a Trust Deed to the Chicago Title & Trust Company as Trustee on said premises commonly known as 6140 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, to secure their note for Four Thousand Four Hundred Dollars ($4400.00) payable to the defendant Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, of which said Harry H. Pace, a negro is the secretary, payable in monthly

    [Page 8 of Complaint; Page 10 of Transcript]
    installments; that said Trust Deed and said Quit-claim deed from said Bank to said Crook were recorded simultaneously, said Quit-claim deed as Document No. 12003437 and said Trust Deed as Doc. No. 12003438; that in furtherance of said conspiracy and combination, the said defendant, Paul A. Hansberry, a negro with his negro family and a number of other negroes, moved into and took possession of the first apartment and basement of 6140 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, on the evening of said May 26, 1937; that by quit-claim deed dated May 27, 1937, the said Jay B. Crook, and his wife, conveyed said premises to said defendant Paul A. Hansberry and Nannie L. Hansberry, his wife, which deed was recorded the same date, May 27, 1937, in the Recorder's Office of said County as Doc. No. 12003844; and that said defendant Paul A. Hansberry, a negro and other negroes are now in possession and occupying the first apartment and basement of said premises.
  2. That said defendant Jay B. Crook was not a bona-fide purchaser of said premises, but obtained title to said premises by fraud, and by an unlawful conspiracy and combination with the defendants James Joseph Burke, Paul A. Hansberry and Harry H. Pace, for the sole purpose of violating the provisions and covenants of said restrictive agreement.
  3. That said efendants [sic] Paul A. Hansberry, Harry H. Pace, James Joseph Burke and Jay B. Crook, each and all had actual knowledge of the existence and validity of said restrictive agreement and the provisions thereof; that the defendant Paul A. Hansberry, by fraud and misrepresentation perpetrated on a Receiver of this Court on or about October 1, 1936, moved into and occupied the first floor of building No. 549 E. 60th Street, Chicago, within said restricted area, which is known in said restrictive agreement as parcel No. 468; that by a decree of this court in the case of Plath vs. Delaunty, et al, entered on the 10th day of November, A.D. 1937, said Paul A. Hansberry was directed and ordered to vacate

    [Page 9 of Complaint; Page 11 of Transcript]
    said premises; that said decree was appealed to the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, which court affirmed said decree of this court; that on said 26th day of May, 1937, said Defendants Paul A. Hansberry moved from said building No. 549 E. 60th Street and immediately moved into said premises at 6140 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, which he is now occupying; that said defendant Harry H. Pace, a negro in unlawfully occupying the premises known as No. 413 E. 60th Street, Chicago, Illinois, known as parcel No. 472, of said restrictive agreement and within said restricted area; that on the 12th day of May, 1937, a complaint to enforce said restrictive agreement as to said 413 E. 60th Street, Chicago, was filed in the Superior Court on May 12, 1937, in the case of Cook, et al vs. Lutz, et al, Gen. No. 37S 6290, in which Harry H. Pace is a defendant, and in which case Harry H. Pace as secretary of the defendant Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company also induced the said Insurance Company to make a loan on said 413 E. 60th Street, of Thirty-Five Hundred Dollars ($3500) [;] that the said defendant James Joseph Burke until March 1, 1937, was the President and Executive Secretary of the Woodlawn Property Owners Association, a corporation, the objection [sic] of which association was the enforcement of said restrictive agreement; that said restrictive agreement was decreed by the Superior Court of said County in the case of Olive Ida Burke vs. Isaac Kleiman, Gen. No. 567887, to be in full force and effect, which decree was affirmed by the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, on November 27, 1934; also in the case of Penoyer vs. Cohn in the Superior Court of said County, Gen No. 34S 16816; that the defendant James Joseph Burke is the husband of said Olive Ida Burke, who was the complainant in the above cause of Burke vs. Kleiman, affirmed in the Appellate Court as aforesaid; that James Joseph Burke resigned as executive Secretary of said Woodlawn Property Owners' Association on March 1, 1937, and since that date, wilfully, maliciously has been conspiring

    [Page 10 of Complaint; Page 12 of Transcript]
    with the defendants, Paul A. Hansberry, Harry H. Pace and other negroes to place negroes either as tenants or owners into possession of real estate in said restricted area to the irreparable damage of the real estate and properties within the said Washington Park Subdivision; that on various occasions within the past five or six weeks the said defendant James Joseph Burke has stated as follows: "I am going to put niggers into twenty or thirty buildings in the Washington Park Subdivision", also on a recent occasion said Burke stated: "I will get even with the Woodlawn Property Owners' Association by putting niggers in every block. You property owners in the subdivision (meaning the Washington Park Subdivision) will soon have headaches." Also, "I will get even with the Association and with certain directors of said Association (whom he names) if that is the last thing I do"; that said James Joseph Burke was instrumental in the sale of both said 413 E. 60th Street and 6140 Rhodes Avenue properties; that the plaintiffs fear and verily believe that defendant James Joseph Burke will carry his threats as herein above set forth into execution unless restricted from doing so by the Injunction of this court.
  4. That the plaintiffs Anna M. Lee, Edward L. Govanus, Esther Govanus, and Louise G. Anderson, were parties to and signers of said Restrictive Agreement before and at the time of the recording thereof; that plaintiff Kathryn Luttrell derived title to the premises at 6138 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, by means of conveyance from Patrick T. Burke, one of the signers of said agreement; that said plaintiff Anna M. Lee is a widow. and the owner of a two-story house and basement brick building at 6148 Rhodes Avenue, situation about one hundred feet south of said building now owned and occupied by said defendants Paul A. Hansberry and Nannie L. Hansberry, that the plaintiffs Edward L. Govanus and

    [Page 11 of Complaint; Page 13 of Transcript]
    Esther Govanus are the owners of a three-story and basement apartment building at 6142 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, immediately next door to said Hansberry building; that said plaintiffs Louise G. Anderson and Lyman M. Anderson, are the owners of a six-apartment brick residence at 6117 and 6119 Eberhardt Avenue, Chicago, a short distance from the rear of said Hansberry building; that the plaintiff Kathryn Luttrell is the owner of a three-apartment brick building at 6138 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, immediately next door to the north of said Hansberry building; that all of the plaintiffs and buildings are within said restricted area, and had until said 6140 Rhodes Avenue building was sold to and occupied by said Paul A. Hansberry, a negro and his family, a total value of upwards of One Hundred Thousand Dollars; that said plaintiffs have ever since said Restrictive Agreement went into effect, observed the covenants and restrictions there in contained with respect to ownership, use or occupancy, and have not permitted either or any of said premises to be owned, used, occupied by or leased to negroes. That by reason of the violation of said restrictive agreement by said defendant Hansberry, the plaintiffs' real estate has been irreparably damaged in value, said plaintiffs' tenants, all of who are white persons, are threatening to break their leases and vacate the apartments occupied by them; that said plaintiff Kathryn Luttrell had, just before Hansberry took possession of his building, leased one of her three apartments to a responsible white tenant at Fifty-five Dollars ($55.00) per month; that since Hansberry occupied said 6140 Rhodes Avenue, said tenants has refused to move into said plaintiff Luttrell's apartment building; that said plaintiffs will suffer other irreparable injury to their property and property rights unless said defendants Paul A. Hansberry and Nannie L. Hansberry are compelled by the decree of this court to vacate said premises." (10-11)
  5. That said Restrictive Agreement has been in full force and effect ever since the same was executed and recorded; that all

    [Page 12 of Complaint; Page 14 of Transcript]
    properties except on a portion of South Park Avenue between 60th Street and 61st Street is owned and occupied by white persons; that said plaintiffs' said properties are several block away from said block on South Park Avenue between 60th and 61st Streets; that all the owners and occupants of the properties within said restricted area, except on South Park Avenue between 60th and 61st Street, and an three apartment building on 60th Street between South Park Avenue and Vernon Avenue, are white persons, and that said owners are desirous that said Restrictive Agreement remain in full force and effect, and plaintiffs bring this action on their own behalf and on behalf of and as representative of other owners of premises in said restricted area similarly situated, who are more than five hundred in number and too numerous to be individually made parties and described by name."
  6. That said occupancy of the premises at 6140 Rhodes Avenue is a violation of said Restrictive Agreement; that said restrictive area is a compact, closely built-up and extremely valuable section of the City of Chicago, improved with valuable residences, apartment buildings, hotels and business property of the value of many millions of dollars; all of which will be greatly depreciated in value if said Negro defendants are permitted to own or occupy said premises within said restricted area; that the total number of parcels of real estate covered by said Restrictive Agreement is over 550; that proceedings are pending against the negro occupants of buildings on South Park Avenue between 60th and 61st Streets."
  7. That the parties executing said agreement and concurrent and counterpart agreements in said Washington Park Subdivision, did so for the purpose of establishing a uniform restriction to safeguard the interests and values of said properties subject thereto; that said covenants should run with the land, and bind their respective heirs and assigns until January 1, 1948, and thereafter until said agreement should be abrogated as therein

    [Page 13 of Complaint; Page 15 of Transcript]
    provided by written agreement of seventy-five per centum of the frontage; and that it was further provided in said agreement that no restrictions imposed thereby should be abrogated or waived by any failure to enforce the provisions thereof, no matter how many violations or breaches might occur.
  8. That it is further provided in said agreement that the covenants, restrictions and agreements therein contained should be considered as appurtenances to and running with the land, and shall be binding upon and for the benefit of each party thereto, and might be enforced by any of the parties thereto by any permissable legal or equitable proceedings, including proceedings to enjoin violation and for specific performance.
  9. That the defendants W. T. Mooney and Elizabeth Cotsones are white tenants in the building at 6140 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, and refuse to pay rent to said Paul A. Hansberry and Nannie L. Hansberry and refuse to attorn to said Paul A. Hansberry and Nannie L. Hansberry by reason of said Restrictive Agreement are unlawfully in possession of said building and are not entitled to collect rents from said defendant W. T. Mooney and Elizabeth Cotsones, but threaten to do so and on refusal to pay rent will attempt to dispossess said W. T. Mooney and Elizabeth Costones [sic] from said building in order to move other negroes into said building, and plaintiffs verily believe and fear that the defendants Paul A. and Nannie L. Hansberry will do so unless restrained from collecting rents from said W. T. Mooney and Elizabeth Cotsones, and restrained from dispossessing W. T. Mooney and Elizabeth Cotsones from said premises and restrained from renting leasing to or installing other negroes in the second and third apartments at 6140 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago.

    [Page 14 of Complaint; Page 16 of Transcript]
  10. That the defendant Israel Katz is the owner of the following described real estate improved with a building to-wit:

Lot Forty-Five (45) in Block One (1) in John J. Mitchell's South Park Sub- division of Blocks Nine (9), Ten (10) and Eleven (11) in Maher's subdivision of the South East quarter (SE-1/4) of Section Fifteen (15), Township Thirty- eight (38), North, Range Fourteen (14) East of the Third (3rd) Principal Meridian, commonly known as 6018 Vernon Avenue, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois;

that said Israel Katz was the record owner of said premises when said Restrictive Agreement went into effect on February 1, 1928, and executed the said restrictive agreement, and has up to this date observed the restrictions and covenants of said agreement; that said Israel Katz on to-wit: the 27th day of May, 1937, threatened to sell said building and premises to negroes and has placed the sale of said premises with said defendant James Joseph Burke, and plaintiffs verily believe that said Israel Katz will carry his threats into execution unless restrained from doing so by the Injunction of this Court.

  1. That the defendant Harry H. Pace is Secretary of the defendant Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, in conspiracy and combination with other defendants, is encouraging the violation of said restrictive agreement by making loans to negroes for the purpose of acquiring real estate within said restricted area; that said Pace is the active executive of said Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, a corporation, as such executive has caused said Insurance Company to make an excessive loan on the premises now occupied by said Pace as hereinbefore set forth on 413 E. 60th Street and on the premises now owned by said Hansberry at 6140 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, Illinois; that said loans by reason of said restrictive agreement are unlawful, but the plaintiffs fear that said Harry H. Pace and said Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, a corporation, will continue to make loans on real estate in said Washington Park Subdivision to negroes or to white

    [Page 15 of Complaint; Page 17 of Transcript]
    for the purpose of negro occupancy, unless restrained from doing so by the Injunction of this court.
  2. Wherefore plaintiffs pray judgment:
    (a) That said defendants be required to make full and direct answer to this complaint, but not under oath, their respective oaths being hereby waived;
    (b)That a temporary injunction issue against defendant James Joseph Burke, his agents or solicitors, restraining each of them from leasing to, bargaining with, selling or attempting to lease, bargain or will any real estate within said Washington Park Subdivision to negroes or to white persons for the purpose of leasing or selling such real estate to negroes or placing negroes in such properties;
    (c)That a temporary injunction issue against the defendant Israel Katz, his agents or solicitors, restraining each of them from selling or leasing the building known as 6018 Vernon Avenue, Chicago, to negroes, or to any white person for resale or leasing to, or occupancy by Negroes;
    (d)That the defendants Harry H. Pace, and Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, their agents, officers, attorneys or solicitors and each of them be restrained from making any further loans on real estate in said Washington Park Subdivision to negroes or to white persons for negro occupancy;
    (e)That the Restrictive Agreement to be declared in full force and effect and binding upon the said defendants and each of them, their heirs, executors, administrators or assigns;
    (f)That the conveyance of said premises hereinbefore described, commonly known as 6140 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, to defendants Paul A. Hansberry, and Nannie L. Hansberry, his wife, be declared void and of no effect and that said Paul A. Hansberry and Nannie L. Hansberry, his wife, and any and all negro persons

    [Page 16 of Complaint; Page 18 of Transcript]
    occupying said premises be compelled by the mandatory decree of this court to forthwith remove from said premises and be permanently enjoined from occupying said premises or renting or leasing same to other negroes, or permitting the same to be occupied by a negro or negroes, which said restrictive agreement is in full force and effect, except such persons as are allowed by the terms of said restrictive agreement to be therein as house-servants, or janitors or chauffeurs actually employed as such for service in, and about said premises by the rightful white owner or occupant of said premises.
    (g) That the defendants Paul A. Hansberry and Nannie L. Hansberry, his wife, their servants, agents or solicitors, and each of them, be restrained by the temporary injunction of this court from collecting or attempting to collect rent from the second and third apartment of said building commonly known as 6140 Rhodes Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, or from dispossessing by legal proceedings or any other means the defendants W. T. Mooney and Elizabeth Cotsones as tenants from the second and third apartments of said building, and in case of their voluntary removal from placing any negro or negroes in possession by lease or verbal agreement of the second or third floors of said building, and that a Receiver be appointed by this court to collect the rents of the second and third floors of said building, until the further order of this court;
    That the defendants and each of them, except said W. T. Mooney and Elizabeth Cotsones, pay the costs of this proceeding; and that the plaintiffs have such other and further relief in the premises as to the court may seem meet and equitable.


Attorney for Plaintiffs
30 N. LaSalle Street #1015
Chicago, Illinois
Franklin 8593

Notes

[1] The name "Paul" was used erroneously instead of the correct "Carl A. Hansberry" in many of early documents in the case
[return to text]


This WWW page was created by Wendy Plotkin (wendy.plotkin@asu.edu) in 1998 and updated on 1 September 2003.