American Beach Museum

1600 Julia Street, Fernandina Beach , 32034
904-510-7036   |

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About American Beach Museum

History 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.

The Beach Lady   American Beach’s most passionate and effective advocate was MaVynee Oshun Betsch, great-grand daughter of A. L. Lewis and an internationally respected environmental activist known affectionately as The Beach Lady. Her life’s work and personal resources were the catalyst for the preservation of the great sand dune, NaNa, a protected, majestic and spiritual presence on American Beach. The museum pays tribute to MaVynee’s legacy and includes among its artifacts her legendary seven-foot long lock of natural hair, embellished with talismans of her favorite causes.

Hours of Operation

Friday-Saturday  10 am – 2: pm.
Sunday  2 -5 pm

Admission Fees

$4.00 – Adults
$3.00 – Seniors 62+
$2.00 – Students
Free – Members

Special Group Tours

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The American Beach Museum is handicapped accessible. One wheelchair is available.


Hours: Fri-Sat, 10am–2pm; Sun, 2pm-5pm

About Amelia Island

Located just off the coast of northeast Florida, Amelia Island is easy to reach, but hard to forget. With 13 miles of beautiful beaches, abundant native wildlife, and pristine waters, this barrier island has long been a beloved destination for visitors and residents alike.