Exclusion: Sycamore’s Racially Restrictive Covenants



There is evidence of several racial covenants in Sycamore. The Fox Subdivision was created in 1927. The Sycamore True Republican included an article about this new section in town: “An exclusive residence district, provided with curved streets, pavements, walks, water, gas, electricity and sewage, and beautified with trees and shrubs — with suitable restrictions attached to each lot, assuring that it will be for all time a high-class residential section — has been laid out by George A. Fox, on the south side of DeKalb avenue on the west limits of Sycamore, and lots are now offered for sale” (March 19, 1927). There were also two ads promoting a “High Class Restricted Resident District” on March 23 and 30, 1927.

The specific language in the restrictive racial covenant for this subdivision states: “The following covenants and restrictions running with the land are to be constructed as being for the benefit of all the lot owners in the said Fox’ Subdivision and as being part of the general plan of building and occupation…. White Race: The ownership and occupancy of lots and buildings in this addition are forever restricted to the members of the pure white race” (March 9, 1929, abstract of property, page 38).

Additional research shows that these racially restrictive covenants continued into the 1940s. Records from a property in the Fairlands Subdivision, dated March 1948, lists 12 “Protective Covenants,” including the statement: “In use, occupancy and ownership of the lots in the subdivision shall forever be restricted to members of the white Caucasian race, excepting that persons of other races may have temporary residence in said subdivision when employed by an owner or occupant of any lot.” Similar language was found in the Protective Covenants listed in the Aaron Johnson subdivision in 1943. Additional examples of these documents can be found in the DeKalb County History Center’s archives.

Text from Fox Subdivision property abstract. DeKalb County History Center archives.

Ad for the Fox Subdivision, including restrictions, in the Sycamore True Republican, March 23, 1927.

These images of the Aaron Johnson Subdivision show the map and racially based restriction under the Protective Covenants. This information was found in the DeKalb County Land Records website.


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