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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Today in Missouri history


May 3, 1948 - 65 years-ago today, this building at 4600 Labadie became the house that changed America.

Between 1910 and 1940, the non-white population of St. Louis increased 150 percent. However, racially restrictive covenants limited the black population to small enclaves of city housing which became increasingly substandard due to overcrowding. By the time the J.D. Shelleys migrated to St. Louis with their six children in 1930, the 
housing shortage for blacks was acute. The Shelleys lived first with relatives in St. Louis and then in overcrowded, inadequate rental quarters in the segregated part of the city. But, in 1945, with the help of a black real estate agent, they purchased this home at 4600 Labadie. The owners of the property were willing to sell to the Shelleys, and they were desperate enough to buy, despite a neighborhood covenant prohibiting the sale of properties to any member of the 'negro or mongoloid race" under penalty of suit by the other property owners and forfeiture of title should the covenant be upheld in court. Steeling themselves for almost certain trouble ahead, the Shelleys purchased the property and moved in. The Louis D. Kraemers, owners of other property on Labadie covered by the restrictive covenant, sued in the St. Louis Circuit Court to restrain the Shelleys from taking title to the property. The trial court held for the Shelleys in November 1945. The Kraemers appealed, and the Missouri Supreme Court, on December 9, 1946, reversed the trial court and directed that the terms of the racial covenant be enforced. The Shelleys then appealed to the United States Supreme Court and, on May 3, 1948, the Court rendered its landmark decision in Shelley v. Kraemer, holding that racial restrictive covenants cannot be enforced by the courts since this would constitute state action in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Photo: Former Shelly home, at 4600 Labadie. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 14, 1990.

May 3, 1948 - 65 years-ago today, this building at 4600 Labadie became the house that changed America.

Between 1910 and 1940, the non-white population of St. L...ouis increased 150 percent. However, racially restrictive covenants limited the black population to small enclaves of city housing which became increasingly substandard due to overcrowding. By the time the J.D. Shelleys migrated to St. Louis with their six children in 1930, the housing shortage for blacks was acute. The Shelleys lived first with relatives in St. Louis and then in overcrowded, inadequate rental quarters in the segregated part of the city.
 
But, in 1945, with the help of a black real estate agent, they purchased this home at 4600 Labadie. The owners of the property were willing to sell to the Shelleys, and they were desperate enough to buy, despite a neighborhood covenant prohibiting the sale of properties to any member of the 'negro or mongoloid race" under penalty of suit by the other property owners and forfeiture of title should the covenant be upheld in court. Steeling themselves for almost certain trouble ahead, the Shelleys purchased the property and moved in. The Louis D. Kraemers, owners of other property on Labadie covered by the restrictive covenant, sued in the St. Louis Circuit Court to restrain the Shelleys from taking title to the property.
 
The trial court held for the Shelleys in November 1945.
 
The Kraemers appealed, and the Missouri Supreme Court, on December 9, 1946, reversed the trial court and directed that the terms of the racial covenant be enforced. The Shelleys then appealed to the United States Supreme Court and, on May 3, 1948, the Court rendered its landmark decision in Shelley v. Kraemer, holding that racial restrictive covenants cannot be enforced by the courts since this would constitute state action in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Photo: Former Shelly home, at 4600 Labadie. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 14, 1990.

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