Annapolis Acquires Former Home of Dr. Parlett Moore for Elktonia-Carr’s Visitor Center

Anne Arundel County, Blacks of the Chesapeake, The Conservation Fund, Chesapeake Conservancy, and Private Donors Make Purchase Possible

Annapolis, MD (February 15, 2024) – The City of Annapolis finalized the acquisition of the one-time home of educator and former Coppin State University President Dr. Parlett Moore on Thursday, February 15, 2024. The City’s acquisition was made possible through City funding as well as funding from Anne Arundel County, The Conservation Fund, Blacks of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Conservancy, Maryland Heritage Area Authority and hundreds of private donors, including Merrill Family Foundation, France-Merrick Foundation and the William L. and Victorine Q. Adams Foundation, Inc.

The Moore property is adjacent to Elktonia-Carr’s Beach Park, which the City of Annapolis purchased in 2022. Together, the two properties will become the Elktonia-Carr’s Beach Heritage Park, managed by the City of Annapolis Department of Recreation and Parks. The location will also become the headquarters for Blacks of the Chesapeake, a nonprofit organization that documents and celebrates the history of African Americans who worked (and continue to work) in the maritime and seafood processing industries in the Chesapeake Bay region.

“Since we acquired Elktonia in 2022, the City and partners have been tirelessly raising the funds to get the Moore property,” said Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley. “Now both properties are not only preserved from future development, but will be joined together to be part of the Elktonia-Carr’s Heritage Park, a site dedicated to telling a more complete history of Annapolis.”

From left to right: Blacks of the Chesapeake President & Founder Vince Leggett, Maryland State Director Bill Crouch and Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn. Photo by J.T. Dean/Chesapeake Conservancy

The City of Annapolis, The Conservation Fund, Blacks of the Chesapeake, Chesapeake Conservancy, and private funders celebrated the property transfer at an event that included elected officials and members of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.

“Today represents another historic milestone of achievement for the 20-year Odyssey to preserve the last vestiges of African American land situated directly on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. The historic locations of the Carr’s, Sparrow’s, Elktonia Beaches, and now the Parlett Moore family cottage, represent the ‘Black Coast’ of the Bay,” said Vince Leggett, Executive Director of Blacks of the Chesapeake. “Working with Mayor Buckley, the Director of Recreation and Parks, and public/private partners, our vision is to open a state-of-the-art educational, environmental, and cultural heritage center designed to train and motivate the next generation of African American land conservation and heritage preservation champions.”

The 0.67-acre waterfront Moore property and existing residential structure join the adjacent Elktonia-Carr’s Beach property, a 5.17-acre parcel that is significant to Black history, culture, and heritage in Annapolis.

Elktonia, Sparrow’s and Carr’s Beaches, located off Edgewood Road in Annapolis, were Chesapeake Bay destinations where Black families spent summer days and musical nights from the 1930s to the 1960s. During the era of Jim Crow segregation, Black Americans were historically prohibited from visiting popular beaches along the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic seashore. In response, Black Americans created their own spaces where they could congregate and recreate safely by the water.

“Acquiring this property during Black History Month is important for Anne Arundel County and Annapolis,” said County Executive Steuart Pittman. “Black leaders of today will be able to memorialize what for many were the most joyous moments of a segregated era, when thousands gathered at this sacred site on the Chesapeake Bay to party to some of the best music that our country had to offer.”

Carr’s Beach hosted some of the most famous musical performers of the mid-20th Century, including Ella Fitzgerald, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Sarah Vaughn, and Duke Ellington, as well as numerous local artists. Sunday night concerts were broadcast to radio audiences on WANN/1190 AM, with Annapolis DJ Hoppy Adams introducing the performers.

The end of segregation, the expansion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the privatization of the Chesapeake waterfront, and a host of other socioeconomic factors led to the decline of these Black-owned businesses on the Western Shore. In 1971, Anne Arundel County condemned 35.5 acres of Sparrow’s Beach to become the location of the Annapolis Water Reclamation Facility. Much of the remaining land was later sold to a private developer to construct a gated condominium development.

Elktonia-Carr’s Heritage Park Photo by Jody Couser/Chesapeake Conservancy

“This special place connects us together with its nature and cultural history. The past and future of Elktonia-Carr’s Beach will fuel the wisdom and compassion our community needs,” said Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn. “Thanks to Mayor Buckley’s leadership, partners and generous donors, current and future generations will learn about the Chesapeake’s Black history at this welcoming park on the shores of the Bay.”

In the coming months, the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks will develop, through a community public input process, a master plan for both properties. The overall plan will incorporate storytelling components about the history of the site, as well as a coastal and shoreline restoration plan in partnership with the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Resilience Finance Authority. The new park will be managed by the Annapolis Department of Recreation and Parks and be open to the public.