A Community in Transition
The party atmosphere is largely gone now, along with the motels and restaurants. Some descendants of the original homeowners have kept their properties, but many have sold and moved on. With beachfront and near-beach property at a premium, land values and property taxes have skyrocketed, and many “For Sale” signs have appeared. Looking ahead, will American Beach hold on to its heritage, or will it succumb to the building boom that has transformed most of the island’s shoreline?
A property owners’ association and a local historical society, named in honor of A. L. Lewis, intend to preserve at least a part of that heritage through a museum and community center. The National Register of Historic Places has designated the original 33 acres as worthy of historic preservation. The Trust for Public Land has coordinated the purchase of the Rendezvous Restaurant on behalf of Nassau County. And thanks to the tireless efforts of local activist MaVynee Betsch (who died in 2005) and the generosity of the Amelia Island Plantation Company, the National Park Service has been given an 8.5-acre pristine sand dune called NaNa at the center of the community. That land is now part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
For the near-term future, then, American Beach will likely continue to remind visitors of its eventful past. For the longer term, who knows?
Proceed to Further Reading.
Return to History of American Beach.
Did You Know?
The first replica fort at Fort Caroline National Memorial was destroyed in 1964 by Hurricane Dora. The demise of the French colony at Fort Caroline was also due to a hurricane. More...