The former property of Judge Constance Baker Motley (1921-2005), located at 99 Cedar Lake Rd. in Chester, was recently selected as an historic site for the CT Freedom Trail, a state designation that places it among a select few sites that celebrate extraordinary individuals whose lives expanded the circle of freedom and opportunity for all Americans.
The 6.7 acre Judge Constance Baker Motley Preserve and house were identified as an important site that embodies the heroic life of Judge Motley. In the state’s acknowledgement, it highlighted her path-breaking accomplishments, first as a civil rights attorney in the ‘50s and in the ‘60s for the NAACP legal Defense Fund with her courtroom work litigating over 200 desegregation cases in 11 southern states, and then her later service for 38 years as a New York Federal District Judge, the first African American woman to hold such a position.
In 2016, the Chester Land Trust purchased Motley’s land across from her home, located at 99 Cedar Lake Rd. from the Motley Family Trust. Land Trust volunteers cleared the land space near the street to create a parking area with a picnic table for the public to enjoy, along with a kiosk that highlights and provides photos of Judge Motley’s career and her time living in Chester (1965-2005). It is now known as the Constance Baker Motley Preserve. The house, also placed on the Freedom trail, is owned privately.
On November 14, 2018, the CT Freedom Trail Committee, under the state’s Department of Economic & Community Development, approved the application submitted by the Chester Land trust for the preserve and her private home to be listed on the CT Freedom Trail.
A formal dedication will be held in the spring,2019. The Motley Family purchased their seasonal Chester home in 1965 and quietly participated in local events and organizations until her death in 2005. For more details about her accomplishments see the Chester Land trust website. www.chesterlandtrust.org