Bay Highlands Civic Association, 2019
 

HISTORY of BAY HIGHLANDS

Bay Highlands was established as a community in 1956. It is surrounded by water on three sides by Oyster Harbor Creek and Blackwalnut Creek. On the east it abuts the towns of Highland Beach and Venice Beach.

 

Highland Beach was purchased by the family of Frederic Douglass in the 1890's and served as a resort for Black Americans who were denied public access to a beach. When Bay Highlands was subdivided in 1956, the streets and parks within the community were named for prominent black Americans.

 

Click on a street/park name to read about the notable African American for which it was named.

Augusta Avenue and Augusta Park

 

Savage, Augusta (1882 - 1962), Sculptor

 

Augusta Savage was born in 1882 in Green Grove, Florida. At the age of six, Augusta started modeling small clay figures. Her minister father strongly objected, but Augusta had such a talent for sculpting, even her father could not take it away.

 

While still in high school, Augusta taught other school-mates how to model clay. Augusta loved teaching, but her desire to learn more about sculpting often distracted her. This desire soon took her to New York's Cooper Union. There, she became one of the first women to study sculpture. However, because she was poor, she almost had to drop out of school. Her instructors were so impressed with her talent that they convinced the school board to give her financial support.

 

At about the same time, the New York public library hired her to do a sculpture of W.E.B Du Bois. Augusta's bust of the famous black leader is considered the finest sculpture of Du Bois in existence. Other sculptures followed, and Augusta was on the path to a long career in the fine arts.

In 1930, Augusta won a scholarship that allowed her to study in France. When she came back to Harlem, she opened a school of her own, The Savage School of Arts and Crafts, where she taught young people for no cost. It was there that fine artists such as William Artist, Norman Lewis, and Ernest Crichlow learned to be such fine artists.

 

In 1938, Augusta was hired to do another sculpture. Augusta was to sculpt for the 1939-1940 world's fair in New York. This sculpture was considered Augusta's best. Because funds could not be found to have the sculpture cast in bronze, it was destroyed after the world fair closed, but Augusta Savage's work still lives on in the work of the students- just as she had hoped.

 

Reference: Great Women in the Struggle and Augusta's Story

Aldridge Park

 

Aldridge, Ira Frederic (July 24, 1807 - 1867) Actor/Playwright

 

Frederic Aldridge was the first U.S. actor to achieve critical and popular acclaim on the European stage. He was the first Negro to play roles such as Macbeth, Shylock and King Lear.

 

During 1820-1824, Aldridge was educated at the African Free School, which was established in New York in 1787 by the Manumission Society. The main purpose of the school was to create a Negro intelligentsia, which later participated actively in the leadership of the Abolitionist movement.  In 1822, Aldridge performed his stage debut for the African Company in New York under the guidance of the lead actor, James Hewlett.

 

After the 1823 closing of the African Company, Aldridge moved to England and performed at the Royal Coburg Theater in London. He eventually became the first American actor to perform at Covent Garden, one of the greatest stages in the English-speaking world. Aldridge was met with mixed reviews -- half the audience loved him, and the other half booed him with racial slurs. He continued to perform in the lesser houses of England, Ireland and Scotland.

 

In 1847 Aldridge completed “The Black Doctor,” an adaptation of a French play in which a mixed-race doctor -- a character likely based on Aldridge -- heals, loves and marries a daughter of a French aristocrat.

 

Aldridge was married twice, first to Margaret Gill in 1825 (she died 1864) and then to Amanda Pauline von Brandt in 1865. He is said to have fathered at least five children. He died in 1867 in Poland.

Crummell Avenue

 

Crummell, Alexander (1819-1898) Clergyman and Author

 

Alexander Crummell was born in New York City to free parents. Crummell was a descendant of West African royalty since his paternal grandfather was a tribal king. He attended Mulberry Street School in New York In 1831, Crummell was enrolled in a new high school in Canaan, New Hampshire, for a brief time before it was destroyed by neighborhood residents.

 

Five years later, Crummell attended Oneida Institute manual labor school. He was received as a candidate for Holy Orders in 1839 and applied for admission to the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church, but was not admitted because of his color. He was eventually received in the diocese of Massachusetts and ordained to the diaconate there.

 

After study at Queen's College in Cambridge, England, Crummell went to Africa as a missionary and eventually became a professor of mental and moral science in Liberia. There Crummell became widely known as a public figure and in 1862 he published a volume of his addresses, most of which had been delivered in Africa.

 

After spending 20 years in Africa, Crummell returned to the United States and became rector of St. Luke's Church, Washington, D.C. He later founded the American Negro Academy.

Dunbar Avenue

 

Dunbar, Paul Laurence (1872-1906) Poet

 

Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote the poem entitled "The Poet" three years before his death in 1906 at the age of 34. Its words may express his own regrets about the direction of his literary career.  Dunbar was the most famous African American poet and one of the most famous American poets of his time.  Although Dunbar felt his best work was his poetry in standard English, he was celebrated almost exclusively for his folk poetry about African Americans written in a dialect referred to as "jingle in a broken tongue."

 

His identification with dialect poetry disappointed him during his lifetime and alienated some later African American readers.  But Dunbar's poetry has also been praised by fans like W.E.B. Du Bois and Nikki Giovanni, who recognized the challenges Dunbar faced as a turn-of-the-century black poet.

Dunbar's parents had both been slaves on plantations in Kentucky. Although Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio, during Reconstruction, his parents' stories about their lives as slaves were the basis for much of his folk poetry.

 

Dunbar took out a loan to publish his first book, “Oak and Ivy,” in 1893. Later that year, he read his poetry at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, where he was praised by Frederick Douglass and other prominent African Americans.

 

Dunbar became a crossover literary sensation in 1896, when his second book, Majors and Minors, was noticed by well-known white critic and writer William Dean Howells. Howells arranged for an expanded version of the book, titled Lyrics of Lowly Life, to be published by the mainstream white firm of Dodd, Mead.

 

The national publication, and the speaking tour that followed, made Dunbar famous among black and white audiences. 

Elliott Drive

 

Elliott, Robert Brown, (1842 - 1884) Politician

 

Robert Brown Elliott, a Representative from South Carolina, was born in England on August 11, 1842.  He attended High Holborn Academy, London, England, in 1853, and graduated from Eton College, England, in 1859. 

 

Elliott studied law and was admitted to the bar and practiced in Columbia, S.C.  He was a member of the State constitutional convention in 1868, a member of the State house of representatives from July 6, 1868 to October 23, 1870, an assistant adjutant general of South Carolina 1869-1871, and was elected as a Republican to the Forty-second and Forty-third Congresses where he served from 1871 until his resignation in 1874. 

 

Elliott later served as a member of the State house of representatives from 1874-1876 and eventually made an unsuccessful bid for attorney general of South Carolina in 1876.  Unfazed, Elliott moved to New Orleans in 1881 and practiced law until his death there on August 9, 1884.

 

Reference: Lamson, Peggy. The Glorious Failure: Black Congressman Robert Brown Elliott and the Reconstruction in South Carolina. New York: Norton, 1973.

Garnett Drive

 

Garnett, Henry Highland (1815-1882) Clergyman  (gär´nit)

 

An American abolitionist clergyman, Garnett was born in Kent County, MD. Garnet was born a slave, he escaped in 1824 and was educated at the Oneida Institute, Whitesboro, N.Y. He was an eloquent speaker, but his radicalism, particularly in a speech at Buffalo in 1843, in which he called upon slaves to rise and slay their masters, caused his influence to decline. He was opposed and superseded in leadership by the more moderate Frederick Douglass.

 

Garnet served as a Presbyterian pastor in Troy, N.Y., in New York City, and in Washington, D.C.  In 1881 he was appointed minister to Liberia, but he died two months after his arrival there.

Henson Avenue

 

Henson, Matthew A. (Aug. 8, 1866 - March 9, 1955), Explorer

 

Matthew Alexander Henson was an American explorer and one of the first people to visit the North Pole. He was on most of Robert E. Peary'sexpeditions, including the 1909 trip to the North Pole.

Prout Street

 

Prout, Mary

 

Former slave Mary Prout founded The Grand United Order of St. Luke, an African-American fraternal and cooperative insurance society in Baltimore in 1867. Its headquarters was established in Richmond in 1889. The order was established to assure proper health care and burial arrangements for its members and encouraged self-help and racial solidarity.