Bloomingdale Tour: 116 Adams Street

African Americans began moving to the 100 block of Adams Street around 1925, despite covenants on some properties. At least nine houses on the block were the subject of lawsuits brought by white homeowners, who argued that the presence of black residents would depress real estate values. However, in part because much of the housing at the west end of the block and along Flagler Place had never been racially restricted, almost all of Adams Street was black-occupied by the early 1940s.

In 1941-42, civil rights attorney Charles Hamilton Houston represented several clients here in an effort to persuade the courts that racial covenants no longer served their intended purpose of keeping the neighborhood white. He also argued that black buyers, who faced a severe housing shortage, were willing to pay a premium to live here, while white demand had declined.

Houston partnered with anti-covenant real estate agent and lawyer Raphael Urciolo, who was sued for selling several racially restricted houses to black clients with the help of broker Romeo Horad. Urciolo represented himself in court, while Houston represented the homebuyers. Although the court upheld the covenants here, the evidence Houston collected would soon prove useful for another case (see Stop 14).



116 Adams St NW