Learn About American Beach on Amelia Island

Many visitors heading to Amelia Island come looking to make the most of local fun, sensational shorelines, and the sunshine to top it all off. While Amelia Island is packed with possibilities when it comes to leisure and recreation, it’s also a destination rich in history. Those who are looking to learn more about cultural moments that came to define the area will want to make sure to make time for a visit to American Beach on Amelia Island.  

When you’re ready to start planning your trip, access our exclusive Amelia Island Vacation Guide! This free resource is filled with innkeeper-selected recommendations on the best things to do during your trip. Everything you need is just a short distance away when you stay at The Addison on Amelia Island.

A Place of Historical Significance in Local Culture 

The story of American Beach stretches back to the end of the Civil War. During this time, repressive laws were put in place barring African Americans from visiting public facilities. This included the Florida shorelines where African Americans were denied entry to public beaches by law. In 1935, the Pension Bureau of Jacksonville’s Afro-American Life Insurance Company known by the name of Abraham Lincoln Lewis, purchased 33 acres of shoreline. Lewis created a privately owned beach that would come to be known as American Beach, where company employees could enjoy time on the sand and host outings without having to worry about legal repercussions.  Over time, Lewis had the land sub-divided and sold off parcels to African American-owned companies and shareowners. This allowed the beach to expand to 216 acres by 1940. The area continued to grow and thrive after World War II. 

The Growth of American Beach 

The American Beach on Amelia Island became a hub for potential in the post-war era as commercial establishments in the area grew. From a simple place where a beach day was finally possible, American Beach expanded to include restaurants, guest houses, motels, and nightclubs as well. It didn’t take long before word spread, and American Beach became a welcome vacation destination for African Americans from across Florida and the country. In September of 1964, American Beach was severely damaged by Hurricane Dora. At the same time, the government passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which opened all public facilities to African Americans. Now, travelers could freely explore places like Miami Beach and Daytona without having to worry. While American Beach became far less of a necessity, it nonetheless held a significant place in the history of African American rights. These days, a property owners’ association has teamed up with the local historical society to preserve the important heritage this area represents with a community center and a museum. The original 33 acres of shoreline have also earned a place on The National Register of Historic Places.  

Visit American Beach 

When you’re visiting Amelia Island and looking forward to experiencing American Beach for yourself, you’ll find it on the south end of the island between Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach on A1A. While The National Park Service owns 8.5 acres of sand dunes in this area, much of the land is held by private landowners so you’ll want to be aware of where you visit and how you travel during your stay. No matter when you arrive, it’s a meaningful stop on your itinerary when you’re looking to pay homage to those who paved the way to opportunity even in the face of repressive legal standings. 

Book Your Getaway to Amelia Island Today 

Elevate your Amelia Island stay in luxury and style when you reserve your place at The Addison on Amelia. Reach out today to learn more and to start planning your next trip! 

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