Racial Restrictive Covenant of the Washington Park Subdivision in the City of Chicago

"This Agreement entered into this 30th day of September, 1927, by and between the undersigned owners of land on the one or the other side of Evans, Langley, Champlain, St. Lawrence, Rhodes, Eberhart, Vernon and South Park Avenues, between 60th and 63rd Streets and on 60th, 61st and 62nd Streets between South Park and Cottage Grove Avenues, in the City of Chicago, witnesseth, that

And, Whereas, the parties hereto feel that the restrictions and covenants hereinafter imposed and created are for the best interests of all the parties hereto and of the property hereinafter described.

In Consideration of the premises and of the mutual covenants hereinafter made, and of the sum of Five Dollars ($5.00) in hand paid to each of the parties hereto by each of the other parties hereto, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged each party as owner of the parcel of land above described immediately under his name, does hereby covenant and agree with each and every other of the parties hereto, that his said parcel is now and until January 1st, 1948, and thereafter until this agreement shall be abrogated as hereinafter provided, shall be subject to the restrictions and provisions hereinafter set forth, and that he will make no sale, contract of sale, conveyance, lease or agreement and give no


license or permission in violation of such restriction or provisions, which are as follows:

1. The restriction that no part of said premises shall in any manner be used or occupied directly or indirectly by any negro or negroes, provided that this restriction shall not prevent the occupation, during the period of their employment as janitors' or Chauffeurs' quarters in the basement or in a barn or garage in the rear, or of servants' quarters by negro janitors, employed as such for service in and about the chauffeurs or house servants, respectively, actually employed as such for service in and about the premises by the rightful owner or occupant of said premises.

2. The restriction that no part of said premises shall be sold, given, conveyed or leased to any negro or negroes, and no permission or license to use or occupy any part thereof shall be given to any negro except house servants or janitors or chauffeurs employed thereon as aforesaid.

The covenants, restrictions, and agreements herein contained shall be considered as appurtenant to and running with the land, and shall be binding upon and for the benefit of each party hereto and may be enforced by any of the parties hereto by any permissible legal or equitable proceedings, including proceedings to enjoin violation and for specific performance; provided, however, that in any action brought to set aside any deed made in violation of any of the provisions of this agreement, it shall be a good defense thereto that prior to the institution of each suit, the title to the premises then in question had become vested in, and was then owned by a corporation or a white person, for value; and provided further, that the lien of no mortgage or trust deed in the nature of a mortgage shall be impaired


or invalidated by reason of the breach of any of the provisions of this agreement, whether any such breach shall have occurred prior or subsequent to the recording of any such mortgage or trust deed; and provided further, that nothing contained in the foregoing provisos shall in any manner impair the right of any person or persons interested to enforce at all times and against all persons the restrictions in this agreement contained prohibiting the use or occupation of all or any part of said premises by a negro or negroes.

This agreement and the restrictions herein contained shall be of no force or effect unless this agreement or a substantially similar agreement, shall be signed by the owners above described, or their heirs or assigns, and recorded in the office of the Recorder of Deeds of Cook County, Illinois, on or before December 31, 1928. Provided, however, that if the owner of any of said parcels or of any part thereof shall be under disability as, for example, when the title is held, without such power, by testamentary trustees or other fiduciaries, the frontage so owned shall be treated as though the owners thereof had power to sign, and have signed this agreement, for the purpose of determining whether this agreement becomes effective or not under the provisions of this paragraph.

It is understood that for convenience, a number of counter-part or concurrent instruments have been prepared of even date herewith, the text of each of which is substantially the same as that of this instrument, and that the execution of any one of such instruments shall have the same effect as the execution of this instrument by the same person would have, and it is understood that parties to


this agreement shall include not only those persons who shall sign this instrument but also all persons who shall sign any of said counterpart or concurrent instruments, and that this instrument and all of said counterpart or concurrent instruments shall constitute one agreement. It being contemplated that changes in ownership may occur between the date which this instrument bears and that date when it shall become effective, or that there may possibly be some misrecital of ownership herein contained, it is further understood that the execution hereof by the person who shall be the owner of any of said parcels of land at the time of such execution shall have the same effect as though such person had been the owner thereof on the date hereof and was so described herein, whether the recital of ownership herein contained be made to conform to the facts as to ownership at the time of execution, the recital in any of said instruments shall be made different from that contained in the others, that difference shall not prevent all of such instruments from being construed to be substantially similar to each other.

No restriction imposed hereby shall be abrogated or waived by any failure to enforce the provisions hereof, no matter how many violations or breaches may occur.

This agreement and the restrictions herein expressed may be abrogated at any time on or after January, 1948, by the written agreement of the owners of seventy-five per centum of the frontage owned by the parties who shall sign this agreement, as herein set forth, such abrogation to be effective from and after the date of delivery and recording of such written agreement. Provided, however, that


if the owner of any of said parcels or any part thereof shall be under disability, as for example, that of minority, or for any other reason shall not have the power to execute such abrogation agreement, as for example, when the title is held without such power, by testamentary trustee or other fiduciaries, the frontage so owned shall be treated as though the owners thereof had power to sign, and had signed such abrogation agreement, for the purpose of determining whether such abrogation agreement becomes effective or not under the provision of this paragraph.

The invalidity of any restriction hereby imposed, or of any provision hereof, or any part of any such restriction or provision shall not impair or effect in any manner the validity, enforceability or affect of the rest of this agreement.

Pronouns herein employed in the masculine gender shall be construed to include the feminine and neuter genders, and the word "party" or "persons " to include natural and artificial parties or persons.

The term 'negro' as used herein shall include every person having one-eighth part or more of negro blood, or having any appreciable mixture of negro blood, and every person who is what is commonly known as a 'Colored person'.

In any case where there is a recorded lease of any parcel of the property described herein for a term ending more than five years after any given date, the owner of the reversion and the owner of the leasehold estate together shall be deemed to be the owners of such parcel on such given date within the meaning of this contract, and whenever the sig-


nature of the owner of such parcel shall be required on such given date under the provisions, whatever interest any signer of this instrument owns in any of said property shall be bound by the provisions hereof. Leases under unrecorded leases on any given date and under leases for terms ending less than five years after such given date shall not be regarded as owners within meaning of this contract.

The undersigned spouses of owners of land herein described join herein for the purpose of signifying their assent hereto and of subjecting their rights of dower, if any, to the restrictions and provisions imposed hereby.

Time is of the essence of this contract and all the terms, conditions and provisions hereof.

The covenants, restrictions and agreements herein contained shall be binding on, and for the benefit of, and may be enforced by and against, each party hereto, his successors and assigns, and the heirs, executors, administrators and successors of them respectively.

In Witness Whereof, the parties hereto have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first aforesaid "


The material above is the text (without signatures and attachments) of the racial restrictive covenant covering the Washington Park subdivision in Chicago, IL, signed 30 September 1927 and recorded at the Cook County Register of Deeds on 1 February 1928, as Document #9914711 in Book 25525, Pages 5 to 31.

The text was obtained from a portion of the Abstract prepared by the Defendants in the Illinois Supreme Court (April Term, A. D. 1939) case of Anna M. Lee, et al vs. Carl A. Hansberry, et al (No. 25116) -- specifically, the Decree issued by Judge George Bristow in the Cook County Circuit Court trial of the case, as scanned and converted to digital text by myself in February, 1998.

Although the text has been proofread and spell-checked, it is probable that there are still errors. Please contact me at wendy.plotkin@asu.edu to report any errors or to comment on this case.

Thank you.

Wendy Plotkin
Assistant Professor

Department of History

Arizona State University


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