Hampton's famous Buckroe Beach hotel and amusement park was barely a decade old when a group of 9 black entrepreneurs met to found a bayside resort of the own.
Made up of such enterprising figures as Hampton University bookkeeper Frank D. Banks and seafood magnate John Mallory Phillips, the Bay Shore Hotel Corp. bought 6 acres of land overlooking the Chesapeake Bay about 300 yards down from the "white" beach and opened a modest 4-room cottage the following summer.
But within a few years that $15,000 investment had grown into a 3-story, 70-room attraction whose fishing pier, dance hall and amusement park combined to make it one of the premiere black vacation spots in the nation.
Black conventions were big business at the booming hotel, which regularly hosted nurses, dentists, doctors and bankers from across the East Coast and Midwest as well as a national bridge tournament.
Famed entertainers such as Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald packed the dance hall, too, helping draw black tourists from as far away as Indiana.
In addition to bath houses and picnic sheds, the complex also featured the Dixie Flyer roller coaster, bumper cars, a shooting gallery, bingo parlors, a carousel and a Ferris wheel.
"For years, the Bay Shore Hotel has been the mecca of the black vacationist," a 1940 government report noted.
In its heyday around the beginning of the 20th century, Bay Shore was so well-known that Phillips would take many of the most elite guests aboard his big sloop for Chesapeake Bay sailing and fishing excursions.
But in August of 1933, the rambling waterfront hotel was damaged so badly by a hurricane that it struggled to recover.
Hurt still more by desegregation in the 1960s, it finally closed in the late 1970s. Its carousel was sold off not long afterward for $5,000.
Still, many memories of Bay Shore continue to live on today, leaving such a strong impression in the local area that the Hampton History Museum is hoping to scan, photograph and record as many as they can in a special program scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday.
Anyone with old pictures, souvenirs or other reminders of the old resort is invited to attend and bring their treasures in to be copied. Donations to the museum's collection are also welcome.
At 7 p.m., the museum will begin recording videotape accounts from visitors for its ongoing oral history of Hampton.
120 Old Hampton Lane, Hampton. Call 757-727-1610 for information.