Gov. Newsom signs bill to facilitate return of Bruce’s Beach to descendants
On Thursday, Governor Gary Newsom signed Senate Bill 796 to facilitate the return of Bruce’s Beach to the descendants of a black family who had bought the beachfront property almost a century ago but were forced to sell it to the county.
In 1912, Charles and Willie Bruce bought a small beach front property in Manhattan Beach. They bought the property for $1,1225 and converted it to a popular beach resort that was used mainly by Blacks. It was the first resort in the west for blacks and became very popular.
Bruce’s Beach became a sought after destination for black families who wished to enjoy a vacation at the beach in a resort. It consisted of a lodge and a cafe. It also had a dancing hall and dressing tents. There was no racial tensions, despite the 20th century milieu as it was a black owned property in Manhattan Beach.
In 1924, the local council forced the couple to sell the property to them. The Ku Klux Klan had led protests against the resort and it was acquired by the county. The land remained unused for years. In 1948, it was transferred to the state. In 1995, it was transferred to the Los Angeles County. The building became the county’s lifeguard training headquarters.
Both Charles and Willie Bruce who were legitimate owners of a thriving resort, had to work for others. They contested the eminent domain order. However, they lost the case and were paid $14,500 for the property. They had to leave the beach as well as the thriving business they had set up. Descendants of the family including their son Harvey and later descendants kept fighting for their property to be restored to them.
Due to the efforts of Governor Gavin Newsom, the state legislature, Senator Steven Bradford, County supervisor Janice Hahn, LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, activist Kavon Ward, justice advocates, pro bono lawyer George Fatheree and the descendants of Charles and Willie Bruce, the beach front property Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach, California will finally be restored to its rightful heirs. The property could be approximately worth $72 million.
Image Credit Gov. Newsom