American Beach

American Beach featured image

Located on Amelia Island, north of Jacksonville, American Beach was founded in the early 1930s by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, president of the Afro American Insurance Company, for his African-American workers. As one of the few Florida beaches open to African-Americans during segregation, the community continued to attract throngs of visitors through the 1950s. More recently, development encroached on the town, and Lewis’ great-granddaughter, MaVynee Betsch—a brilliant eccentric known locally as the “Beach Lady”—helped marshal supporters and partners to help preserve it. In 2004, we purchased a stretch of the beachfront to be protected as public land. The parcels hold the historic Evans’ Rendezvous nightclub, and Nassau County recently received a grant from the National Park Service to document the structure’s condition.