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Baltimore, real estate, business, Jack Lewis


On December 15, 1933, the case of Jack Lewis, Inc. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore concluded with a denial of certiorari from the United States Supreme Court. After over a year and a half of litigation, Jack Lewis, Inc. had to close the shutters on their newly acquired funeral parlor at 1804 Eutaw Place, in the Jewish community of Mount Royal.

The company had its roots in the “downtown” Eastern European Jewish neighborhood while Eutaw Place was home to a number of “uptown” German Jews who were integrated with wealthy gentiles. Not only did the Supreme Court’s decision thwart Mr. Lewis’ aspirations to develop his business in a residential district, but it also closed the doors to other potential renting/leasing families on the second and third floors of the building. A few years later, however, this very same company would reopen their uptown business on 2102 Eutaw Place, a few blocks away but zoned for commercial use, while maintaining their downtown funeral parlor. Yet what is intriguing about this case goes beyond the legal process that delayed Mr. Lewis’ financial ambitions. Instead the underlying social and economic factors of the period demand our studious attention.


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