Through this collaboration, 407 deeds in the North Shore of Boston that once contained racially restrictive covenants within them were identified (later reduced to 390 after duplicates were removed) in Southern Essex County.
Racial covenants, unfortunately, were a common practice restricting property ownership based on race, ethnicity, or other discriminatory criteria.
These covenants exist through the inclusion of language such as:
“The granted premises shall not be sold, mortgaged or leased to or occupied by persons of negro blood.” – Found within property deed in Marblehead
“Said premises shall not be conveyed to or occupied by a colored persons.” – Found within property deed in Beverly
“The premises … shall not be owned or occupied by any person of Negro, Jewish, Italian, Greek, Polish or Armenian blood.” – Found within property deed in Nahant
“That said premises shall not be conveyed to or be occupied by any person not of the Caucasian race” – Found within property deed in Lynnfield
“No lot shall be sold to, or no building shall not be occupied by any person other than a member of the Caucasian race. This shall not prevent the employment and occupancy of domestic servants of other races.” – Found within property deed in Saugus
This Collaborative Project Wishes to:
- Raise awareness about racially restrictive covenants historically found within property deeds (and in some cases, still referenced by present day deeds), and the lasting effect they’ve had on wealth building, property ownership, and exclusion of people of color;
- Recognize that certain racial groups were intentionally excluded through these racially restrictive covenants from purchasing property, significantly contributing to inequity and generational wealth;
- Be a tool in our continued examination of modern day zoning, understanding of redlining, and current fair housing policies;
- Deepen the connection between where the historic deeds existed and present-day zoning through mapping locations on present-day zoning maps;
- And finally, support and guide homeowners to take steps to expunge the non-legally binding, yet unjust racially restrictive language from their deed through the filing Land Court Form 2-21.
Below is an interactive map detailing where these racially restrictive covenants existed in Southern Essex County. The map also contains information on expungement status, based on self-reporting and research. Please use the Zoom toggle located in the upper left.
Are you a Homeowner Wishing to Expunge a Radically Restrictive Covenant?
We are working with members of our North Shore communities to void this language. If you would like to join us in this effort, here is how:
The first step in expunging this language from your deed is to file a Land Court Standing Order 2-21, of Massachusetts form COMPLAINT TO DECLARE CERTAIN PROVISIONS VOID.
For more information, visit : Land Court Standing Order 2-21: Remedies for void provisions under chapter 184, § 23B
- Download Form 2-21
- Complete the form according to your circumstances.
- Add Attachments
- A copy of the current/last Certificate of Title, or most recent Deed.
- A copy of the document or instrument that contains the challenged language.
- Mail Completed Form + Attachments to:
- Land Court Recorder’s Office
- 3 Pemberton Square
- Boston, MA 02108
We hope to keep track of how many homeowners move to expunge racially restrictive covenants from their deeds and would be thrilled to hear from you. If you would like to share that you have filed Form 2-21 to remove the racially restrictive covenant, wish to discuss this matter further, or have any questions – let’s connect.
Jean Michael Fana
Advocacy & Education Manager