Restrictive Covenants

 

In addition to extolling the numerous virtues of Glover Park, early promotional material for the new neighborhood made sure to provide reassurance that “restrictive standards” were in place.

 

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Promotional brochure, circa 1930

 

 

Promotional brochure, circa 1930

 

In general, restrictive covenants are obligations imposed on the buyer of real estate (and enforceable on subsequent buyers), prohibiting actions––keeping livestock, operating a junkyard, or selling liquor, for example––that would threaten property values.

The particular “undesirable encroachment” alluded to in early Glover Park promotional material––and in similar literature in countless other American municipalities––was only spelled out in a covenant which would have been added (as in the 1964 certification of title insurance below) to forms and documents immediately prior to the conclusion of any transaction.

 

 

Restrictive covenant, title insurance policy, 1964.Certification of title insurance, 1964. (Contributed by Robert and Virginia Mead, 1994.)

 

 

Racial covenants specifically prohibited sale or rental to one or more categories of non-white buyers. Although the Supreme Court ruled them unenforceable in 1948, racial covenants persisted in the record of land transactions, and remained effective deterrents to integration until 1972, when the U.S. Court of Appeals held that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited the recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia from accepting documents that contained them.

 

“Covenants incorporated in private conveyances of real estate in the District of Columbia which forbid the rental, lease, sale, transfer, or conveyance of the land to any Negro are valid, but their enforcement by the courts of the District of Columbia is prohibited by R.S. § 1978 guaranteeing to all citizens of the United States equal rights to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property.” (Hurd v. Hodge, 1948)

 

“Appellants, a group of District of Columbia residents representing the class of homeowners whose property is burdened by racial covenants, instituted this suit to enjoin the Recorder of Deeds from accepting such covenants for filing in the future and to require the Recorder to affix a sticker on each existing liber volume stating that restrictive covenants found therein are null and void. They also asked for an injunction preventing the Recorder from providing copies of instruments on file unless a similar notice is attached to the copies.” (Mayers v. S. Ridley, 1972)

 

 

Post Script

 

The Glover Park Citizens Association was incorporated in 1932; that its membership was racially restricted may be taken as a given.

In 1952 it was deemed prudent to augment the standard language of the GPCA’s Articles of Incorporation, restricting membership to “Caucasians”, with an additional restriction against ‘any person who is a member of any organization designated as “subversive” by the Attorney General of the United States, or who refuses to answer in the negative the question, “Are you a Communist?”‘.

In 1967 the Articles of Incorporation were revised, and the longstanding racial restrictions, and the more recent political restrictions, quietly disappeared.

 

 

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Articles of Incorporation, Glover Park Citizens Association, 1952.  (Contributed by Robert and Virginia Mead, 1994.)

 

 

 

 

___________________________________________________________

Carlton Fletcher

 The citation and acknowledgement of my research is greatly appreciated.

All rights reserved.

 

 Questions and corrections may be directed to

carlton@gloverparkhistory.com

 

The support of the Advisory Neighborhood Council (3B) is gratefully acknowledged.