May 19, 1922 - LEFFERTS MANOR ASSOCIATION
Supreme Court Justice Lewis J. Fawcett made a judgement against Frederick C. Solz, owner of 39 Rutland Road "for violation of a covenant in the deed" which prohibited other than one-family use of the property. He had rented furnished rooms.
May 15, 1926 - LEFFERTS MANOR COMMENDS POLICE
At the annual meeting of the Lefferts Manor Association ... the attorney for the Association reported that "action was pending in Supreme Court" against the owner of 66 Maple Street for violation of the covenant. Other items were: tree spraying, and a request to the Police Commissioner to post signs at the entrance to the Manor restricting traffic to "pleasure vehicles" and lightweight business vehicles.
January 18, 1928 - LEFFERTS MANOR PROTESTS SCHOOL
... the community protested against the building of a Public School on the border of the Manor. They appealed to Boro President Byrne to stop the planned construction.
May 2, 1928 - WANT COURT TO BAR TWO
The Association made plans to institute court proceedings to compel realty owners to limit use of property to one family, which members allege is supported by an early deed. They are raising funds through $5 pledges.
April 17, 1930 - COURT UPHOLDS LEFFERTS MANOR RESTRICTION EFFORT
Mrs. B.M. Wright ordered on Neighbor's Plea not to take in Boarder.... Justice Byrne in Supreme Court prevented Wright from taking in boarders at 54 Midwood Street. Neighbors discovered some months ago that some of the occupants were not members of the family or relatives. The neighbors complained to the Lefferts Manor Association and they went to court. The Association pointed to the covenant of 1893. She pointed to the changes. "You wouldn't know the old place now". She replied with a sign hung out in front that Negroes might buy or rent her place if they chose. Her lawyer, Louis Sacks, said "Others had actually changed the appearance of their houses, while Mrs. Wright's transgressions were not visible from without". Frances Sullivan, counsel for the Association, insisted that Mrs. Wright could not by such defense void her plain responsibility under the covenant.
May 30, 1938 - AREA IN FLATBUSH DEFENDS ITS HERITAGE: "Commercialism Fails to Gain Foothold in Lefferts Manor Community Where Homeowner's Association is Ever on the Alert."
In an era of change and uncertainty, really unique is "that tight little island" which isn't an island at all but a highly restricted residential section of Flatbush where living conditions can never change--The Lefferts Manor. In that area of ten square blocks only one-family residences may grace the scene. There are no shops, no theaters, no places of amusement, no miniature golf courses, no apartment houses. Boarders are frankly frowned upon and private businesses are deplored.
Once an enterprising citizen thought to erect a swimming pool in the area. Such an idea was promptly dealt with, as have half a dozen other projects. This stern adherence to the one-family restriction has been upheld by the Lefferts Manor Association which has been organized for almost 20 years, carefully watching and maintaining the character of the neighborhood.
April 16, 1939 - COVENANT STILL HOLDS FORTH IN LEFFERTS MANOR NEIGHBORHOOD: "Civic Group Fights to Keep Restrictions to 1-Family Houses."
The quiet residential atmosphere of Brooklyn mourned by many as gone forever, still exists in a residential section of Flatbush. There in the Lefferts Manor, some of the city's prominent men and their families have found the refuge from the noise and congestion they sought. The Manor is the only residential neighborhood in the central metropolitan area which succeeded in completely maintaining its original bars against the changing conditions of the city. To insure this every purchaser was required to sign a covenant. Its enforcement, however, has succeeded only because of the vigilance of the Lefferts Manor Association. During the 20 years of the Association's life a variety of objectives has been accomplished. Its most important function, however, has been to protect the area's fundamental character.
Although court action has been taken in a score of cases, warnings have been sufficient to block most attempted violations of the covenant. In one case no less than 22 persons were living in a house formerly occupied by a family of four. Music studios, dress shops, and similar enterprises have sprung up now and then only to be closed upon discovery by the association. sales of property for the construction of a public swimming pool and a large commercial parking lot were blocked; two boxing arenas nearby which disturbed the neighborhood's quiet were shut down shortly after they opened.
January 22, 1940 - LEFFERTS MANOR SECTION AGAIN IN COURT ROW: "Residents Seek Ban on Housing in Injunction Suit."
Another injunction suit in the long fight to keep the Lefferts Manor an exclusive residential section has been filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court. It is directed against Mrs. Laura Lloyd who in the complaint filed by Isaac Sargent, attorney for her neighbors, is accused of maintaining a rooming house at 82 Rutland Road and having a business sign in front of their house. The section contains the homes of many men who are leaders in business, banking and official circles.
December 17, 1941 - COURT OUSTS ROOMER FROM LEFFERTS MANOR
An injunction handed down by Supreme Court Justice Louis L. Fawcett, will dispossess boarders from the Lefferts Manor house at 65 Rutland Road owned by Amelia Lane.
June 8, 1950 - TRIAL SET ON ROOMING HOUSE BAN
Official Referee Peter P. Smith has scheduled for trial a suit that would permanently enjoin William Bernard Holmes, a post office clerk and his wife, Almeida, from using their two story and basement brownstone dwelling at 158 Rutland Road as a rooming house. The suit was brought by the Lefferts Manor Association.... Holmes acquired the property last August. On Oct. 1, according to papers filed in the case, he began advertising for roomers in the New York Amsterdam News. The Association then obtained from the court a temporary injunction restraining him from renting rooms until after the trial of the suit to make the permanent injunction.
June 19, 1950 - NO ROOMERS IN LEFFERTS MANOR HOME
More than 125 persons overflowed the tiny Borough Hall quarters of the Official Supreme Court Referee Peter P. Smith when the Lefferts Manor Association brought suit to prevent a homeowner in the area from using his house as a rooming house. After some witnesses had been heard, Referee Smith permanently enjoined William Bernard Holmes and his wife Almeida from renting to roomers.
March 10, 1952 - MINISTER SEES DISCRIMINATION IN HOLMES RENT CASE
The Rev. Carl Chworowsky of the Flatbush Unitarian Church said last night that enjoining William B. Holmes from renting his brownstone to roomers was a case of racial discrimination, ... he said that the action was motivated by the fact that Holmes was a Negro.
March 23, 1952 - DR. TAYLOR QUITS PROTEST CAMPAIGN ON MANOR "BIAS"
The Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor, pastor of the Concord Baptist Church and President of the Brooklyn Division of the Protestant Council of the City of New York, it was revealed today, has withdrawn from the Holmes Defense Committee.... Dr. Taylor is the third leading citizen of the Negro community to withdraw sponsorship of the committee's protest.
May 21, 1952 - BIAS COMMITTEE COLLAPSING
The Holmes Defense Committee appeared to be near collapse today following the refusal of the Rev. Sandy F. Ray and Mrs. Maude Richardson to appear last night at a public rally sponsored by the group. The withdrawal of the two Negro leaders came on the heels of an announcement that the Rev. Karl Chworowsky and six other prominent Brooklyn clergymen had also withdrawn from the committee, after obtaining certain information. The information referred to was a letter distributed by the Lefferts Manor Association declaring the court action was successfully prosecuted against 15 other homeowners who had in the past violated the covenant restricting homes to one-family use. "The sole basis for prosecution in each case was a violation of the restrictive covenant by the homeowner and not his race, color or creed", the letter stated. Members of the Association also pointed out that at present seven Negro and one Chinese family are living in the Lefferts Manor area unmolested.
May 26, 1954 - CHIEF MULLS APPEAL FROM O.K. OF LEFFERTS MANOR COVENANT
A Flatbush chef today considered an appeal from a Brooklyn Supreme Court ruling which upheld a prohibition against multi-family dwellings in the Lefferts Manor section near Ebbets Field. official Referee John B. Johnson last week upheld the legality of the covenant written into deeds prior to 1900. The Lefferts Manor Association brought suit against Ignatz Rabchenia, who purchased the house at 150 Rutland Road for $15,000 in 1951. He claimed he spent $10,000 renovating the structure from one-family to a multiple-family dwelling. Referee Johnson decided that the character of the area had not changed since the covenants originally were written into the deeds and thus cannot be canceled.
The legal battles of the Lefferts Manor Association to defend the community did not end in 1954, but the Association's activities did disappear from newspaper headlines. There seem to be three major reasons for this loss of visibility. The first cause is the folding of many of the major daily newspapers in New York City, especially the Brooklyn Eagle. The operation of the large number of dailies in New York prior to 1960 resulted in considerable coverage of "local" news. Today, local coverage is limited to special items, or small sections of the New York Times, Daily News and the New York Post. In addition there are several neighborhood newspapers in Brooklyn, but very few are dailies.
Secondly, the Lefferts Manor itself was subsumed in the mind of the public into larger "neighborhood" entities. The concept of neighborhood itself has changed over the years, and the growth of city planning and development movements resulted in the creation of administratively meaningful communities in which small enclaves have lost their unique public identities. Whereas once Flatbush was a town with many neighborhoods, it is now thought of as a single neighborhood. At the same time, these new large neighborhoods did not generate among their members the same spirit of community as was associated with smaller, historically relevant neighborhood units. Neighborhood community interest group politics in the city has also changed. The larger, more populous the unit--the more influence it wields. "Neighborhood" leaders claim to speak for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people. The decade of the sixties was also an era of the "politics of confrontation" in which large segments of the city's population, categorized ethnically, racially or religiously, faced each other or the government in a highly charged arena. Essentially, the small neighborhood community became redundant in city affairs.5