Planning staff is working with members of the community, as well as the County Facilities Department, on future revitalization plans for the Evans Rendezvous.
American Beach became popular with Jacksonville-area residents, but thousands of people from across the Southeast and country visited American Beach. Notable visitors included Mary McLeod Bethune, Cab Calloway, James Brown, Ray Charles, and Zora Neale Hurston. As the community grew, it included homes, rental cabins, small motels, and affiliated commercial sites. One of the most popular and enduring commercial buildings was the Evans Rendezvous, an oceanfront restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue. Says Marsha Dean Phelts, author of The American Beach Book of Homes, “To say Evans' Rendezvous was the most frequented spot on American Beach understates its popularity and impact on this resort community.” Remembered by visitors as the "heartbeat and synergy" of the community, the Evans’ was a 200-seat establishment, serving food and drinks and home to musical entertainment and dancing. Started in 1948 by Willie Evans, Sr., the Rendezvous operated continuously until 2000, when it closed.
In 2004, with assistance from the Trust for Public Land and the Florida Communities Trust, Nassau County obtained ownership of the Rendezvous site for purposes of creating an American Beach Historical Park. Since 2004, initial restoration work has been completed on the structure. After this initial rehabilitation work was completed, no further plans were put in place to continue the project.
A management plan for the property was executed in 2005 that restricts the uses of the site. Specifically, the plan requires continued public access to the beach, protection of the beach dunes, use of Evans for public interpretation, recreation and social event uses, focus on preservation and interpretation of the American Beach National Historic District, and restoration of native vegetation.
In 2018 County staff engaged property owners and residents with The Evans Rendezvous Task Force. The community and County worked together to procure $28,180 in 2020 from the National Park Service's African American Civil Rights of The 20th Century Grant Program for a structural evaluation of Evans Rendezvous. The draft report is found at the link below.
Evans Rendezvous HSR Grant draft, June 10, 2022