“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Fernandina Beach in Nassau County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)

First Home on American Beach

First Home in American Beach Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Fillmon, March 10, 2016
1. First Home in American Beach Marker
Inscription.  American Beach was established in January 1935 when the Afro-American Life Insurance Company purchased 33 acres of land with a 1000-foot shoreline. This Masonry Vernacular home was built that year for the president of the company, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, by local African American shipbuilder William S. Rivers. Lewis was Florida's first African American millionaire and his home was the first built on the beach. The resort community attracted thousands of African American vacationers until 1964. The passage of the Civil Rights Acts desegregated beaches everywhere, and the tourist population sought closer or more popular beaches. Later that year, Hurricane Dora devastated the area destroying homes and businesses. Many residents chose not or could not afford to rebuild. In the 1970s one of Lewis' great granddaughters, MaVynee Betsch, lived in this house and, with other property owners, fought to protect the community's heritage from beachfront development. However, rising property taxes and declining health has reduced the population of American Beach's permanent residents. The American Beach Historic District was listed in the National Register of
First Home in American Beach Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Fillmon, March 10, 2016
2. First Home in American Beach Marker
With house in background
Click or scan to see
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Historic Places in 2002, with the Lewis house as a contributing structure.
Erected 2015 by The American Beach Property Owners' Association, Inc. and the Florida Department of State. (Marker Number F-880.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1935.
Location. 30° 34.472′ N, 81° 26.655′ W. Marker is near Fernandina Beach, Florida, in Nassau County. Marker is on Gregg Street just north of Lewis Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5466 Gregg Street, Fernandina Beach FL 32034, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ervin’s Rest (within shouting distance of this marker); Historic American Beach (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Evans' Rendezvous (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Evans’ Rendezvous (about 500 feet away); A Dune System Called "NaNa" (about 600 feet away); American Beach at the Crossroads (about 600 feet away); Martha's Hideaway (approx. 0.2 miles away); Franklintown Chapel (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fernandina Beach.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on March 11, 2016, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. This page has been viewed 605 times since then and 138 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 11, 2016, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 5, 2022