Highland Beach is an incredibly important place in Maryland; it was founded so that African-Americas could escape segregation and enjoy the Chesapeake, and now the community is committed to ecological stewardship of the historic landscape. Preservation Maryland members recently experienced the Town by a community-led walking tour, follow along:


We began the day at the Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center where Ray Langston, the former mayor of Highland Beach, and Jean Langston, the Director of the Museum, gave us the history of the town from its founding in 1893 by Charles Douglass, the son of Frederick Douglass, and his wife Laura, through its incorporation in 1922, to present day. Highland Beach is one of only two incorporated towns in Anne Arundel County – the other being the City of Annapolis.

The Museum is located in Twin Oaks, the summer cottage built in 1895 for Frederick Douglass, and it contains many historical objects from throughout the town’s history. Although originally founded as a summer resort, it is now town of year-round residents. The history and legacy of Highland Beach, the first African-American municipality in Maryland, is very important to the current residents, many of whom are the descendants of Highland Beach’s original settlers.

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We were then led on a walking tour by Mayor William H. Sanders and Zora Lathan, former Town Manager, who both emphasized the commitment of the town to protect and respect their historic coastal landscape. This environmental stewardship is evident in the planting of historic and native plants throughout the town, the renovation of the town hall to a LEED Platinum building, and the RainScaping Park that was funded by Program Open Space, a statewide program that also funds the Maryland Heritage Area Authority and is strongly advocated for by Preservation Maryland.

We ended our day at the home and studio of internationally-renowned artist Lillian Burwell. She was kind enough to open up her studio and share some wonderful art and stories with us.



We would like to thank, Mayor William H. Sanders III, Jean and Ray Langston, Zora Lathan, Lilian Burwell, and the citizens of Highland Beach for welcoming us into their community. 

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