Destination was popular resort during era of segregation
By Mary Gail Hare (The Baltimore Sun, October 13, 2011)
Decades ago, a trip to segregated Ocean City presented far too many challenges for African-American families. Instead they went to a sandy peninsula near Annapolis, known as “the beach,” for a day’s outing.
Carr’s Beach — its proper name — offered swimming, picnics and entertainment. Many recall performances by up-and-coming stars such as Louis Armstrong, James Brown and Ray Charles, who, while touring on the Chitlin’ Circuit, stopped at Carr’s, one of the few local venues open to black entertainers of that time.
“I remember it was the closest we could get to the water,” said Delores McIntyre, 79, a lifelong city resident. “The water was so clear and there was great entertainment, especially Ray Charles.”
*** More on Carr’s Beach ***
“Remembering Al Brown (1929-2009)“
In an article celebrating the life of Baltimore musician Al Brown (“The Madison”), the August-September-October 2009 issue of the Blues Art Journal referenced Brown’s gigs with his band the Tunetoppers at Carr’s Beach, where stars like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan also performed:
Locally, aside from the Royal Theatre, there was also another uniquely summertime venue considered as part of the national “Chitlin’ Circuit,” Carr’s Beach in Anne Arundel County. Located at the mouth of the Severn River off Edgewood Road on the peninsula across Back Creek from Annapolis’ Eastport district, Carr’s Beach was home of the concert series “Bandstand on the Beach,” which was hosted live over WANN-AM (one of the first stations in the U.S with a black oriented format) by legendary disk jockey, Hoppy Adams. Moreover, the site (now the Villages of Chesapeake Harbour condominiums), a blacks only, 20 acre resort and amusement park, had an open air dance pavilion which could accommodate several hundred people. Although this sprawling complex was owned by a consortium of Afro-American businessmen in Baltimore, it was overseen by the late producer (Ru-Jac records), Rufus Mitchell, who was longtime a major mover and shaker in the Baltimore music scene. “Yeah, we appeared a few times at Carr’s Beach, especially after our hit record, but we had our own favorite Sunday afternoon spot and built in fan base for years at Beachwood Park. It was run by a Reverend Smith and down the same neck of the woods [in Pasadena on the Magothy River]. What I remember most, though, is coming home and being stuck in traffic on [Governor] Ritchie Highway and wondering if we were ever going to make our Sunday night gig,” said Charles with a chuckle. (Larry Benicewiz, Baltimore Blues Society)
Gone But Not Forgotten
This popular and often requested Maryland Public Television documentary, narrated by columnist Dan Rodricks, takes a nostalgic look back at places in the Maryland region that are physically “gone but not forgotten” in memory.
A segment on Carr’s Beach is included, as well as Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre, Baltimore’s streetcars, Carr’s Beach in Annapolis, White Tower Restaurants, Royal Theatre, Pimlico Hotel, Gwynn Oak and Carlin Amusement Parks. (Maryland Public Television, original production 1994, 60 minutes)
Watch a clip from Caldwell McMillan’s Carr’s Beach film. (Courtesy Baltimore Sun)
Listen to this 1966 Carr’s Beach commercial set to a vintage photo montage.