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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

Restricted Properties - Skagit County

This map shows the exact location of 579 properties where racial or religious restrictions were added to property records in the decades before 1968. Legally binding, the restrictions barred people of color from buying, renting, or occupying property. Zoom and pan for a closer look. Click on any parcel to see the restriction. Do not assume that areas without marks were unrestricted. Racial covenants were only one of the mechanisms of exclusion. The 1970 census counted only 45 Black residents in Skagit County. Asians numbered only 316, while 650 Indigenous Americans remained on or near the county's three reservations. The county population was 98.1% white. The Layers List below allows you to activate layers that show the current racial demography of neighborhoods.

 

(Maps by Liz Peng)

Sources:

These are preliminary findings and subject to revision. We have identified restricted properties by combing through Skagit County deed books located in Puget Sound Regional Archives. We are still adding and confirming data.

When you click on a property, the pop-up displays address, subdivision (plat), the language of restriction, developer, initial date of restriction. Documentation can be either a deed, plat document covering all properties in the subdivision, CCR (separate document filed by developer covering the subdivision), petition filed by a group of owners covering their listed properties. The last possibility is "Sanborn rule." In the 1925 Sanborn V. McLean case, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that restrictions could apply even if not mentioned in a deed of sale provided the developer had routinely imposed them in earlier sales. Courts in other states followed this rule of "implied covenants" which usually meant that an entire subdivision was covered by a restriction imposed by the original developer. Where we have found many deeds restricted by the original developer, we assume that the rest were similarly restricted under the Sanborn rule.

There is a logic to the geography. Areas platted (subdivided) between 1925 and 1950 were most likely to be restricted. Realtors and developers wrote racial exclusions into the initial documents subdividing a future neighborhood. All properties in the subdivision were thus legally restricted. It was more complicated to restrict older areas. Neighborhood associations sometimes organized petition drives and convinced white homeowners to add racial restriction clauses to their properties.