American Beach and Evans Rendezvous - Amelia Island, Florida
American Beach is a historic Beach Community popular for African-American vacationers during the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Along Florida’s shoreline black Americans were denied access to public beaches until Abraham Lincoln Lewis came along. Many white owned insurance companies would not insure Black Americans and A.L Lewis filled the niche and became Florida’s first black millionaire.
In 1935 the pioneering black owned business Jacksonville Afro-American Life Insurance Company bought 33 Acres of shore front property on Amelia Island in Fernandina Beach, Florida. A.L.Lewis invited company employees to make use of the beach and hosted company outings with families and churches.
Over the years with a couple land acquisitions, America Beach stretched to over 216 acres and became a place African-Americans could enjoy “Recreation and Relaxation Without Humiliation”
Out on the beach there was surf fishing, shell gathering, beauty contests, and automobile races along with the warmth of friendly faces. Vendors sold ice cream, candies, sodas and sundries to the children on the beach.
“Coming to the beach was a place where you were wanted and you felt when you went into your Big Mama’s House, nothing is going to go wrong”.
“It was like Pinocchio when he went to Pleasure Island and just did everything that he wanted to do and had so much fun”.
There were hotels restaurants and nightclubs as well as homes and businesses.
From the time it opened in 1948, Evans Ocean Rendezvous became the hottest spot on American Beach. Singers Billie Daniels, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway, Billy Eckstein, Duke Ellington and others performed at the nightclub. Hank Aaron, Joe Lewis, Ozzie Davis and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston came for the music and good times.
James Brown was turned away from performing there and Elvis after one of his Florida theater shows in Jacksonville, finally got through the door to sing gospel with the house band.
Unfortunately in 1964 American Beach was hit hard by Hurricane Dora destroying many homes, and when the Civil Rights Act desegregated, the beach became less a necessity.
In 2001 American Beach was listed as a historic site for the National Register of Historic Places.
Located on American Beach, the A.L Lewis Museum is dedicated to the history of American Beach.
David Garland FL Fernandina Beach Feb 03, 2023 Abandoned Places Bars Beaches
Location: Fernandina Beach, FL
David Garland Feb 03, 2023
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