Racist rule found in old Evansville HOA restrictions

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Buying a new home may be one of the greatest accomplishments in life. But a young woman in Evansville recently uncovered an ugly past just after closing on her first place.

One line in the old neighborhood rules says she is not allowed.

“Nobody besides Caucasians were allowed to technically own homes in the neighborhood.”

The home Kennedy Moore now owns was built in 1953. She doesn’t want to reveal where she lives to spare her neighbors from embarrassment, but they have welcomed her with open arms.

It may not have been so welcoming in the 1940s. Moore and her family uncovered the prejudice once enforced against her home.

“Just thinking about the fact, my great-grandpa was around during that time, and if he wanted to purchase a home where I live now, he couldn’t.”

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally ended the kind of language you’ll find in the old Homeowners Association document.

The HOA no longer exists and its former rules don’t apply, but the “whites only” requirement is forever written in history.

“The ownership and occupancy of lots and residents in this subdivision are forever restricted to those persons of the white Caucasian race, except that a white tenant or owner of any lot may permit his domestic servant or servants, not of the white Caucasian race, to occupy a room or rooms in his said residence building or a garage apartment during the time of such domestic service.”

Recorded June 12, 1947

Keller-Williams real estate agent, Charlie Butler helped Moore buy her home. He says it’s not common for neighborhoods built in the 40s to even have HOA’s.

“It’s outrageous that people actually thought that,” Butler said. “I have never seen that.”

Vanderburgh County Historian, Stan Schmitt says this kind of racist language started fading away by World War II, but you can’t erase what happened.

“It still shows up on these old documents, and it’s one of those unenforceable restrictions,” Schmitt said.

Source: Vanderburgh County Recorder’s Office

Ugly history isn’t easily forgotten, but Moore is convinced Evansville has moved far beyond this kind of racism.

“Pretty disheartening to see that still be written,” she said.

The document doesn’t mean anything now, but officials in the Vanderburgh County Recorder’s office say there is nothing they can do to change it, because it’s part of history.

“I’m glad we can say it is in the past,” Butler said.

Moore agreed.

“It’s good to see we’ve changed since then.”

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This story was originally published on September 27, 2019

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