Retiree plans to refurbish historic black beach

071418 Lowes Beach

Joe White, a Perquimans County resident, stands in front of Lowe's Beach, which was founded in the early 1950s by Issac Lowe as one of the black-owned beaches in the area during the segregation era. White, who bought the property, plans to refurbish it as a public recreation site.


By Reggie Ponder
The Daily Advance

Saturday, July 21, 2018

HERTFORD — A military retiree who recently purchased a piece of history now wants to renovate the facilities at the once-segregated beach and reopen it to recreation.

Joe White purchased about eight acres on the Perquimans River that was home to Lowe’s Beach. The beach and club was among several in the area established by black residents at a time when recreation was racially segregated and black families did not have access to beaches that were frequented by whites.

Some of those historic black-owned beaches, such as Chowan Beach on the Chowan River in Hertford County and Bogue’s Beach on the Little River in Pasquotank County, are currently being featured in the “Memorable Sands” exhibit on display at Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City.

But Lowe’s Beach, established as a recreational area by businessman Isaac Lowe in the early 1950s, is as much a part of the present as it is of history.

“It’s the only one actually left,” White said, referring to the demise of other black-owned beaches in the area.

White’s new version of Lowe’s Beach will be all about fun on the water, as it was at the original Lowe’s Beach. The only thing missing will be the segregation. At the new Lowe’s Beach, all will be welcome.

White, a Perqumans native who recalls his mother taking the family on picnics to Lowe’s Beach when he was a child, has big plans for the beach.

He has bought eight acres of waterfront he describes as “nice sandy beach,” has constructed a new gazebo, is building a new pier and plans to build an enclosed structure for weddings and community events in the coming year.

“It’s the most beautiful waterfront property you can ever see around here,” White said in an interview last week.

Plans for next summer include adding a lifeguard for the swimming area and personal watercraft that can be rented.

Although White plans to charge a fee for using the building or renting personal watercraft, he does not plan to charge admission to the beach itself.

White said his intention is to get the beach as much as possible back to the fun, relaxing place it was when Isaac Lowe operated it.

Lowe’s Beach is located on the southwest side of the Perquimans River.