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Deeply racist 1919 listing restricted Lake of the Isles to whites only

A century ago, a wealthy Minneapolis real estate developer had very specific demands of who could live in his homes.

A century ago, a wealthy Minneapolis real estate developer had very specific demands of who could live in his homes. Mapping Prejudice

These days, residents of the Kenwood or the Cedar-Isles-Dean neighborhoods will occasionaly band together publicly to protect themselves from infrastructure. 

A light-rail train line, say, or increased housing density

A century ago, some residents of those Minneapolis neighborhoods were also concerned about what might be moving into the neighborhood. Namely: non-white people.

Last week, filmmaker and Augsburg college professor Ryan Stopera tweeted the image of a 1919 house listing he'd come across in his research. Stopera and Adja Gildersleeve, his partner in Free Truth Media, are working on a documentary series in collaboration with Mapping Prejudice, the enormous research project tracing the history of restrictive racial covenants in Minneapolis. 

Housing covenants were so prevalent (and so non-controversial) that some 10,000 Minneapolis properties are still encoded as such. Around the same time, the modern suburb of Edina was essentially founded as a planned and racially pure enclave for caucasians just outside the city's southern border. 

All  that fine print is unenforceable these days, but stands as a reminder of how racist "redlining" was accomplished systematically, a sea of ink drying into an impenetrable fence around white neighborhoods. 

This was no secret conspiracy. Consider the language in the covenant Stopera tweeted: 

Can't get more explicit than that.

The man advertising that property was one Edmund G. Walton, a successful English-born developer who happened to live in the Kenwood neighborhood himself. Walton's stately "Gray Court" manor on Mt. Curve was worth at least double, if not 20 times as much as the homes he sold around town.

Not long after this listing ran in the Minneapolis Morning Tribune, Walton was gone, struck down by the flu pandemic that killed tens of millions worldwide.

But the neighborhood he sought to protect remains much as he'd envisioned it, with a few exceptions. As of 2016 estimates, Kenwood and Cedar-Isles-Dean have few renters, and a high percentage of homes in the area valued at over $300,000. Both are still nearly 90 percent white.

The first episode of Stopera's documentary gets its debut at 3715 Chicago Ave. in south Minneapolis at 6 p.m. tonight, as part of a Central neighborhood discussion on affordable housing. More information here.