Location: Third Street at Chester Avenue
African-American families and their churches and schools have been the heart and soul of this community since Eastport was founded after the Civil War. At Site 12 you'll see the once-segregated schoolhouse that now serves as a private club for prominent African-American boaters.
The original Mt. Zion church was established in the 19th century. Today, African-American families gather for worship at the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, rebuilt at 612 Second Street in 1991.
The African-American families who settled here more than a century ago provided a religious, educational and cultural foundation in the community. Many of the families have thrived here through four generations or more. These families are the soul of this neighborhood.
The families in this community owned grocery stores, harvested crabs and oysters, built boats, worked in the nearby seafood plants and labored in agriculture. They built small homes along Back Creek.
Before World War II, 17 men from the large Turner family in this small and tightly knit community worked as watermen. Many of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those early families are still here today.
Reverend Joseph J. Turner was highly regarded by the congregation of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church and John Wesley United Methodist Church.
To form their community, the African American families built the Mt. Zion Church. The trustees of Mt. Zion petitioned the Anne Arundel County School Commissioners, and a neighborhood school was established in 1895, first in the church and later in the building across the street, which now houses the Seafarers Yacht Club. The Third Street School for "colored children" soon became the foundation of social and community activities in the neighborhood.
In the early 1900s segregation was the rule. The small schoolhouse served the young African-American children in Eastport for 50 years.
In the 1930s, the neighborhood school needed to expand. The president of Sears and Roebuck, Julius Rosenwald, provided “seed” money at that time for schools for Black children. The school grew to a two-room elementary school.
The playground across the street was created in the 1940s. It’s still a gathering place for neighborhood children and teens.
As the winds of change brought on by Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s swept America, the Third Street School closed permanently as a segregated school. The students and several teachers joined their white neighbors at the Eastport Elementary School at Sixth Street and Severn Avenue. The building was used as a library processing center until 1966.
In 1967, a local group bought it and created the Seafarers Yacht Club which still operates today as a primarily African American private club.