The Land Was Ours: Highland Beach (Maryland)

The Land Was Ours: Highland Beach (Maryland)

Highland Beach (Maryland)

This is the oldest of all the black resort towns in America. Founded by Charles and Laura Douglass in 1893, Charles was the son of the well renowned Frederick Douglass.

This beach is located approximately 35 miles outside of Washington D.C. and was the very first black owned resort in the history of America. This destination was birthed from an act of racial discrimination when the Douglass’s were denied entry into a restaurant on Chesapeake Bay. Charles Douglass then decided to delve into the real estate industry and began purchasing beachfront property and selling lots to his friends and family. Some of its earliest purchasers were notable African American politicians in the DC/Baltimore area including Senators, Congressman and Judge Robert Terrell and his wife, Mary. Terrell was the first black judge in the District of Columbia.

When Charles Douglass died in 1920 its ownership was transferred to his son Haley Douglass who in 1922 led a movement to make Highland Beach the first African American incorporated municipality in the state’s history.

Today there are approximately 90 homes still owned and occupied by descendants of the original settlers of Highland Beach and the Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center Twin Oaks’ is a local attraction at this distinctive resort destination.

Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Dubois and singer Paul Robeson all made Highland Beach their summer home.


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