Charles H. Bohl
Douglass Summer House
3200, Wayman Avenue, Highland Beach, Anne Arundel County
The Douglass Summer House, built in 1894-95, is one of the first built in the small community of Highland Beach, which was established in 1893 by Douglass' son, Major Charles Douglass. Facing east, it enjoys a spectacular view of the Bay. The 2 1/2 story Queen Anne style frame dwelling measures 3 bays by 4 bays with a central entrance and has a hip roof. Prominent exterior features include a one-story wraparound porch (which is enclosed on the south elevation), and a corner tower at the second-story southeast corner, providing a small second-story porch. The exterior walls are covered with German siding except for the rear wing and the enclosed south portion of the porch, which are covered with board-and-batten siding. The roof is covered with wood shingles. Windows are 2/2 double hung sash except for the rear wing and enclosed porch area, which are 4/4. The interior consists of two principal rooms on the first floor and three on the second floor. The interior walls and ceiling are clad in the original narrow beaded tongue-and-groove board paneling which has achieved a rich patina over the years. The Douglass House displays a high degree of integrity. A meticulous renovation in 1987 maintained a majority of the original interior and exterior fabric of the building.
The significance of the Douglass Summer House is derived from its relationship to the African-American resort community of Highland Beach. Located along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Highland Beach was established in 1893 by Major Charles Douglass, a Civil War veteran and son of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), the famed African-American humanitarian, orator, and writer. Highland Beach became a summer gathering place for prominent African-Americans, particularly from Washington, D.C. Included among the early residents are Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the poet; and Robert Terrell, the first African-American municipal judge in Washington, D.C., and his wife, Mary Church Terrell, educator and civil libertarian. Frequent visitors to the resort included Booker T. Washington; Paul Robeson, the singer and actor; and Langston Hughes, the poet. With financial assistance from his father, Major Douglass laid out the community, naming the two principal streets for Reconstruction-era friends of his father. Tradition maintains that the impetus for establishing Highland Beach was a rebuff Major Douglass and his wife received from an all-white neighboring resort community. The Douglass Summer House was built for Frederick Douglass in 1894-1895. Douglass, however, did not live to see it completed. Tradition says the house was designed by Douglass himself with a second floor balcony to provide a view east towards the Eastern Shore where he was born. The Douglass Summer House is the oldest house remaining in Highland Beach. This house and the one erected for Major Douglass were the first structures built in the newly laid-out community. The Major Douglass house no longer stands.