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Pasadena History: Fire Destroys Brown's Grove

Brown's Grove was a resort for African Americans located on Rock Creek near the end of Colony Road.

Here’s your weekly dose of some Pasadena history thanks to The Pasadena Peninsula by Isabel Shipley Cunningham.

Brown's Grove was a resort for African American that featured waterfront, refreshments and rides. A fire broke out at the resort in 1938 and destroyed everything.

"Brown's Grove, on Rock Creek near the end of Colony Road was the only black resort to have its own steamer," Cunningham wrote. "Beginning with refreshment stands, a picnic grove and bathhouses, Captain George Brown added a merry-go-round, a racerdip (roller coaster) ride, a midway, and eventually a dancing pavilion with a good band.

"He had come to Baltimore in 1893 as a young man 'with enough baggage to fill a cigar box.' He became the first black member of the Master Mates and Pilots Association and the prosperous owner of three excursion boats Starlight, Avalon and Newbill.

"Local residents remember the steamer Starlight, easily recognized by the star on the top, as she made repeated trips up and down the Patapsco to Brown's Grove on weekends.

"After midnight on July 5, 1938, fire broke out in the racedrip ride. The blaze was spectacular by the time the Riviera Beach and Orchard Beach Fire Companies arrived. By morning, all that remained of the resort was smoldering rubble.

"In the black community in Baltimore, people mourned the loss of the only place comparable to the all-white beaches where they could enjoy bathing, boating, dancing and waterfront."

Check back next Wednesday for more Pasadena history. For a complete listing of all Tidbits of History columns, please click here.

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