January 27, 2023
After a two-year long pause, the American Beach Museum, now known as the A.L. Lewis Museum, has finally reopened to the public and we couldn’t be more excited. Come discover the unique story of Florida’s historic African-American beach.
In 1935, the Pension Bureau of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, led by Abraham Lincoln (A.L.) Lewis, bought three parcels of land on the southern end of Amelia Island to create a beach and resort in response to Florida’s segregation laws. It became a glorious oceanfront haven that in its heyday attracted superstars such as Cab Calloway, Joe Louis, Hank Aaron, Ray Charles and James Brown.
Today, American Beach is the first stop on Florida’s Black Heritage Trail, and the continually expanding A.L. Lewis Museum is a great place to begin your historical journey. One of the exhibits features influential preservationist and environmentalist, MaVynee Oshun Betsch whose legacy is continually celebrated and who also happens to be Lewis’ great-granddaughter. A new exhibit unveiled this year is called, “Recreation and Relaxation Without Humiliation: The American Beach Story” and offers a glimpse into the lives of those who lived, worked and played there.
Museum hours are: Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Special Note: In addition to the museum, I encourage a Coast One Tour to learn more fascinating facts about black history on Amelia Island as well as Kingsley Plantation in Duval County.
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