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Highland Beach
Charles R. 
Daniel Brashears

Highland Beach was founded in 1893 by Charles R. Douglass, the youngest son of Frederick Douglass. While visiting the Bay area, Charles and his wife Laura stopped at an all-white resort where they were denied service because of their race.


Crossing the nearby creek, they were welcomed by Daniel Brashears, a free black farmer.


With a vision of establishing a resort community where family and friends could spend their summers and enjoy themselves without fear of racial rejection, Charles arranged to purchase a large portion of the farmland. He sub-divided it and sold lots to others who were able to buy and build cottages of their own.

In 1922, Highland Beach was incorporated as a municipality, becoming the first African American township in the State of Maryland. It continues today with its mayor and governing board.

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The view today looking across Black Walnut Creek into Bay Ridge
Venice Beach
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Venice Beach came into being in 1922 when Osborn T. Taylor purchased the remaining acres of the Brashears' farmland and established an independent community adjacent to Highland Beach.

While surveying the land, it struck Mr. Taylor that the houses would be laid out on the water, just as they were in Venice, Italy.  He decided to name his new development Venice Beach.


Venice Beach is a progressive community with its own legacy of achievers. The two communities have closely interacted throughout the years and continue to celebrate their proud traditions.

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Osborn Taylor and his grandson, John Leak
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