Summit Beach Park was an amusement park and recreation area on Summit Lake in Akron. Through the 1940s patrons could ride the South Main streetcar to Miller Avenue and then take a free bus the remaining distance west to the park. The Call & Post reported on various orchestras that performed at Summit Beach Park in the 1940s-50s. In September 1945, Summit Beach hosted an “Emancipation Celebration” billed as “A Negro picnic in tribute to Abe Lincoln!”
African Americans visited Summit Lake at least as early as 1889, when a Literary Society picnic was held there. The amusement park opened in 1917 and, as at many other such venues, admitted patrons regardless of race but on unequal terms. For example, company outings such as that of Goodyear Aircraft Co. in 1943 were sometimes integrated. African Americans also used other park facilities, including the rollerskating rink, but they only gained access to its swimming pool through sustained struggle in the 1950s. Blacks’ presence shaped the park’s attractions. As one Black Akronite, Richard Dent Sr., later recalled, skaters at Summit Beach once rolled to organ music. Then one night when the organist did not show up, they persuaded the floor guard to his R&B records instead. “From that day forward,” Dent related, “we skated to rhythm and blues music.”
Additional information coming soon.
- “Ohio News. Sent by The Gazette’s Energetic Correspondents.” Cleveland Gazette. August 17, 1889.
- “Goldies Skating Center Grand Opening.” Akron Reporter. March 28, 1998.
- Summit Beach advertisement. Akron Beacon Journal. September 8, 1945.