ST. LOUIS – A piece of St. Louis civil rights history is missing.
A plaque commemorating the Supreme Court case that allowed a black family to move into a neighborhood that previously banned them from owning homes is missing from the house at the center of the case.
It sat in the front yard of the Shelley House at 4600 Labadie in St. Louis for decades until this week, when the homeowner noticed it was gone. All that’s left is the glue.
“It makes me feel terrible, I tell you, I don’t see why they would want to do anything like that,” Lenton Morris said.
Morris has owned the home for about 60 years. His family said he bought it from JD Shelley.
When JD Shelley bought the house, there was something called a restrictive covenant in place that said black people couldn’t buy property there. A neighbor sued to prevent the Shelley family from moving in, and that lawsuit went all the way to the US Supreme Court, where Shelley won.
Morris didn’t know he’d moved into such a historic home at first.
“There was a little store around the corner and they said, ‘You know you movin’ into a special house there?’” he said.
His children said they have a steady flow of people driving by to learn about its history.
“This house is on the National historic landmarks. Busloads of people come by here all the time just to see the plaque and read the plaque and hear the stories,” Erich Morris said.
The Morrises said someone stole the plaque.
“They knew what was going on, but they just didn’t care I don’t believe,” Lenton Morris said.
They said the plaque had quite a bit of copper on it, so they believe the thief was just looking to make a quick buck. But they’re hoping it’s returned or replaced soon.