State Aid Sought For Douglass Home

March 01, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

A group of Highland Beach residents wants state help in purchasing the resort home of Frederick Douglass, a prominent abolitionist and statesman, and converting it to a cultural center.

Raymond L. Langston, co-chairman of the Highland Beach Historical Commission, came to the county's General Assembly delegation Friday seeking $300,000 -- about half the projected purchase price.

The commission would have to raise the remainder through private donations and other grants.

The county's House of Delegate's contingent also heard a request for $1.2 million to convert the old, all-black Wiley H. Bates High School into a multiservice community center and rental apartments for seniors.

And the City of Annapolis askedthe delegates to amend the liquor laws and expand the Annapolis WineFestival to include beer and wines from around the world.

The 13-member delegation will vote next Friday whether to sponsor legislation answering those requests.

Highland Beach, a small town on the tip of the Annapolis Neck Peninsula, was founded by Douglass' son, Charles, in 1892. Langston told the delegation that Douglass bought 44 acres of land and 500 feet of Chesapeake Bay waterfront after a nearby Victorian resort refused to serve him.

Soon, other prominent blacklawyers, doctors and musicians began to vacation there. The town wasincorporated in 1922.

The Douglass home, a three-story cottage, has recently been renovated by Annapolis architect Chip Bohl and his wife, Barbara.

The Highland Beach Historical Commission would like to open the Douglass house to the public on special occasions and forexhibits, Langston said. It also could be used as a retreat for doctoral students working to complete their theses, he said.

Jean Creek, head of the county NAACP and president of the Wiley H. Bates Foundation, said the proposed $5 million multiservice center would includeday care, job-training, small business counseling and a campus of Anne Arundel Community College.

The center is being developed in a controversial public-private partnership that includes construction of50 to 70 town homes on the school's old ball fields.

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