Douglass House purchase is approved

February 15, 1996

The state approved yesterday the purchase of the Frederick Douglass House, which will be converted into a museum memorializing the black abolitionist.

The Board of Public Works approved the $500,000 purchase, with payment to be shared equally by the state and Anne Arundel County.

The house is in Highland Beach, a black enclave founded by Douglass' son, Charles, and daughter-in-law, Laura, 103 years ago. The waterfront community four miles south of Annapolis was a summer resort for the black upper class and a place blacks could live without fear of prejudice.

"It's the beginning of a new chapter," said Frank Oslislo, an administrator with the state Department of Natural Resources. "It's just a wonderful acquisition, and Douglass was one of Maryland's favorite sons."

The county will oversee the home, which will house a museum, cultural center and library.

The summer cottage on the Chesapeake Bay will hold photographs of the Douglass family and information about prominent blacks.

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