Shelley House | St. Louis Public Radio

Shelley House

Descendants of the Shelley family attended Friday's ceremony, including Melody Davis, center, and Melinda Jones, right.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Melinda Jones stands next to her great-grandparents’ former house and shields her eyes against the already-hot morning sun.

The modest two-story brick house in the Greater Ville neighborhood was the backdrop for one of the most important court cases of the civil rights movement, which virtually abolished racially restrictive covenants used to prevent people of color from living in white communities.

The “Shelley House” was added to the African American Civil Rights Network Friday, making it the first property in Missouri to join the register.

Shelley House Rededicated By Realtors, Community Groups, Leaders

Feb 11, 2019
Eric Friedman of St. Louis REALTORS; Erich Morris, who grew up in the home; Michael Burns, president of Northside Community Housing Inc.; Alderman Sam Moore; Morris' sister Mary Easterwood; and U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay participated in the rededication.
Steven Engelhardt | St. Louis American

When Mary Easterwood’s family moved into their home at 4600 Labadie St. about 60 years ago, the neighbors had tried to explain the history behind the house.

“But they couldn’t quite get the story together,” Easterwood said. “As we got older and we started to study, then we found out about the Shelley v Kraemer case,” decided in 1948.

Easterwood’s father, Lenton Morris, had bought the home from another African-American man, J.D. Shelley. When Shelley purchased the home, the title included a racially restrictive covenant – which was an agreement that prohibited the building’s owner from selling the home to anyone other than a Caucasian.