Carr's Beach

From Annapolis Past Port

Carr's Beach

During the Jim-Crow era, Carr's Beach and Sparrow's Beach served as vacation resorts on the Chesapeake Bay exclusively for American Americans.

Youtube Spotlight on Carr's Beach


The Carr family purchased 180 acres of waterfront farmland in 1902 and operated the farm for many years until founding Carr's Beach in 1926. After inheriting the land, daughter Florence Carr Sparrow, created Sparrow's Beach north of Carr's Beach in 1931. Visitors came to swim at the beaches, picnic, and dance.

The two beaches were popular tourist destinations in the Mid-Atlantic region. William I. "Little Willie" Adams gained control of Carr's Beach in 1948 after the death of Elizabeth Carr. Under his management, the destination became a significant art and music hub, acting as a stop on the "Chitlin Circuit." Performers such as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, and Chuck Berry took the stage.

Live Music

African American musicians traveled a performance route that was referred to as the Chitlin' Circuit. As a venue on this route, Carr’s beach hosted accomplished R&B, jazz, soul, and Rock ‘n’ Roll icons. Performers included:

  • Count Basie
  • Chuck Berry
  • James Brown
  • Cab Calloway
  • Ray Charles
  • The Coasters
  • Fats Domino
  • The Drifters
  • Duke Ellington
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Lionel Hampton
  • Billie Holiday
  • Buddy Holly
  • Etta James
  • The Marvelettes
  • Lloyd Price
  • Otis Redding
  • Little Richard
  • The Shirelles
  • The Temptations
  • Ike and Tina Turner
  • Dinah Washington
  • Jackie Wilson
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Frank Zappa