About A. L. Lewis Museum
A. L. Lewis Museum opened its doors on September 6, 2014, bringing the lifelong dream of American Beach’s MaVynee Oshun Betsch, “The Beach Lady,” to fruition. Step inside to experience the culture, stories and heritage of American Beach.
The driving force behind the conception of American Beach was Abraham Lincoln Lewis, one of the original founders in 1901 of Jacksonville, Florida’s Afro-American Life Insurance Company. Lewis was a man with little formal education who became a world traveler, visionary investor, philanthropist, and Florida’s first African American millionaire. The African American resort community of American Beach was established in 1935 in defiance of segregation and the prevailing Jim Crow laws of that era. When first mapped out, the streets of American Beach were named for the Afro’s founders and their families. Encompassing 216 acres, American Beach became known as “The Negro Ocean Playground”….a place for “recreation and relaxation without humiliation”. As the numbers of visitors grew, businesses sprang up providing food, lodging and entertainment. Performers who appeared at American Beach during its heyday include Duke Ellington and other popular musicians of the ‘40s and ‘50s.
The changes that came with integration signaled the demise of that idyllic moment in time. Initially a summer vacation community attracting visitors from throughout the South, American Beach today has many year-‘round residents and visitors from all points of the compass. Now half its original size due to land lost over the years to development, current property owners, preservationists and historians are united to preserve the heritage and the land. The American Beach Museum, through objects, photographs and video documentation, stands as an anchor for those efforts.
TEMPORARILY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Friday-Saturday 10 am – 2: pm.
Sunday 2 -5 pm
$4.00 – Adults
$3.00 – Seniors 62+
$2.00 – Students
Free – Members
Special Group Tours
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The A. L. Lewis Museum is handicapped accessible. One wheelchair is available.