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Reviving Lowe's Beach: White plans to refurbish historic 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.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, July 16, 2018

HERTFORD — History lives on at Lowe’s Beach.

Joe White has found his own piece of paradise at the historic beach founded on the Perquimans River more than 60 years ago, buying a home there 15 years ago. Now the military retiree said he plans to refurbish facilities at the site with hopes of operating Lowe’s Beach beginning next summer as a public recreational site.

White, who grew up in Perquimans County, recently bought 10 acres or so where the Lowe’s Beach club formerly stood.

Lowe’s Beach is one of a number of beaches in the area that were established by black residents at a time when recreation — like much of the rest of life in North Carolina and across the South — 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, 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.

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