Detroit’s Rackham Granted Stay of Execution

An Oakland County Circuit Court judge has ruled that Detroit’s historic Rackham course must remain a golf course—unless permission to do otherwise is granted by the heirs of the original donors.

The Rackham course, which was designed by Donald Ross, was given to the city of Detroit by Horance and Mary Rackham in 1920 on the condition that it always remain a golf course. The City of Detroit has decided to sell the land to developers who presumably would try to build housing.

But the City of Huntington Woods, a suburb of Detroit adjacent to the course also had offered to purchase the land—so that it would remain a course as the Rackhams intended. The developers offered more, however, and Detroit has apparently signed a purchase agreement.

Huntington Woods sued, and Judge Rae Lee Chabot ruled that the deed was valid and the course must remain intact. Unless the heirs of the Rackhams say otherwie.

And there is no doubt that Detroit’s politicians will try to get them to do so.

It’s amazing how short sighted Detroit’s so-called leaders can be. They are intent on selling a historic property, designed by an historic architect, that has great significance to the African American community. Rackham was one of the few golf courses where African Americans were welcome; Joe Louis is said to have played there often.

It’s also the home course of Ben Davis, one of the first African American golf pros. The last I heard, Mr. Davis was still alive—although in his mid nineties—and still played at Rackham twice a week.

Once the course is gone, Detroit will have irrevocably lost yet another piece of what once made the city great.

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