After 100 years, Bruce’s Beach has officially been returned to the Bruce family!

In 1912, Charles and Will Bruce made their way to California and settled in an area now known as Manhattan Beach. 

Willa purchased two lots right by the sand and she owned and operated a popular lodge, cafe, and dance hall that welcomed Black beachgoers. 

Soon after, more Black families were drawn to the neighborhood that became known as Bruce’s Beach.

These families also bought land and built their own cottages by the sea.

It wasn’t long before local real estate agents and the Ku Klux Klan purportedly plotted to harass them. 

When their efforts to drive the Black beach community out of town failed, city officials condemned the neighborhood in 1924 and seized more than 24 properties through eminent domain. 

They claimed there was an urgent need for a public park.

However, the properties sat empty for decades. 

The oceanfront parcels that had been owned by the Bruces were transferred to the state in 1948, then to the county in 1995.

The other lots were eventually turned into a park.

When Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn learned of the history of Bruce’s Beach she made it her business to return the land to its rightful owners. 

She joined forces with Supervisor Holly Mitchell, and Sen. Bradford, who rallied state lawmakers and the governor to authorize transferring the two parcels back to the Bruce family.

On Wednesday (July 20) in a heartfelt ceremony, the deed for Bruce’s Beach was returned to Anthony and Derrick Bruce. 

Hahn told the rightful heirs to the land, “we can’t change the past, and we will never be able to make up for the injustice that was done to your great-great-grandparents and great-grandparents Willa and Charles nearly a century ago. But this is a start.”

Los Angeles County will now rent the property from the Bruces for $413,000 a year and maintain a lifeguard facility there. 

The lease agreement also includes the right for the county to purchase the land at a later date for $20 million, plus any associated transaction costs. 

This marks the first time the government ever returned land that had been wrongfully taken from a Black family.

Source: LA Times