A map of Elktonia Beach in Annapolis, Maryland. Credit: Courtesy Chesapeake Conservancy

Carr’s Beach, once a haven for Black people to enjoy the Chesapeake Bay and listen to the top entertainers of the day will now be turned into a public Annapolis Park. 

From the 1930’s and throughout the era of segregation, “The Beach” featured artists including Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, The Temptations, Ike and Tina Turner, Little Richard, and Billie Holiday. Black-owned WANN radio broadcast the performances live.

The land, now known as Elktonia Beach, was purchased for about $7 million. 

Thanks to a partnership between The City of Annapolis, Blacks of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Conservancy and the state of Maryland, an agreement was reached with the Conservation Fund to acquire the property and to turn the five-acre piece of waterfront land into a public park with access to the water. 

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin had a hand in securing $2 million in congressionally directed spending as part of the fiscal year 2022 spending bill. The funding was specified for the City of Annapolis to support a state and local partnership effort to establish and develop a city park. Governor Larry Hogan announced the state will provide more than $4.8 million toward the purchase to be added to additional financing from including state and city organizations.

Founder and president of Blacks of the Chesapeake, Vince Leggett told WTOP the popularity of the beaches waned after the Civil Rights Act when segregation wasn’t legally enforced. He said the properties were developed, and a water treatment plan was built on part of the land. Leggett has been working on the acquisition of the land since 2008.

No opening date is yet set for the park.

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