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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Lee, Arthur and Edith, House
Reference Number 14000391
State Minnesota
County Hennepin
Town Minneapolis
Street Address 4600 Columbus Avenue South
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 7/11/2014
Areas of Significance ETHNIC HERITAGE / Black, SOCIAL HISTORY
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A series of menacing protests described as "riots" in the newspapers enveloped 4600 Columbus Avenue South following its purchase in June 1931 by Arthur and Edith Lee. The young couple was African-American, and they chose to buy a house in the "Field" neighborhood, part of South Minneapolis that area homeowners considered to be a "white neighborhood." Some members of the community were upset by the presence of a black family in their neighborhood, especially considering that in 1927, the Eugene Field Neighborhood Association had gone so far as to ask homeowners to sign a contract stating that they would only sell their properties to Caucasians. Community members banded together and tried to force the Lees to leave their newly purchased house. Racial taunts and small demonstrations rapidly escalated, culminating in an unruly mob of 4,000 people who packed the lawn and spilled out into the street in front of 4600 Columbus Avenue South on the evening of July 16, 1931. Arthur Lee, a World War One veteran, an NAACP member, and a United States Postal Service worker, was determined to stay; he said he had a "right to establish a home" in the neighborhood of his choosing. Many individuals and organizations came to the family's defense, including, most notably, the local and national chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the influential lawyer Lena Olive Smith. Arthur Lee, Edith Lee, and their young daughter Mary remained in the house until fall 1933, when they moved elsewhere in Minneapolis. The Lee protests remain some of the largest and most widely publicized racially-motivated demonstrations in Minnesota's history.

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria