Camp Twin Oaks Collection (c. 1934-1970)
Scope and Content: The Camp Twin Oaks Collection contains over 70 photographs (c. 1934-1975) taken at Camp Twin Oaks, an African-American vacation camp located on the South Shore of Massachusetts on the Kingston/Duxbury town line. The images depict guests enjoying typical summer amusements and relaxing. There are also a number of photographs of the owners, John and Ella Woodbury, and other family members.
The Collection also contains items and ephemera from the camp including 4 brochures, driving directions, an address book and an invitation to a “Musical Tea.”
Biographical Note: Camp Twin Oaks was an African-American residential camp operating on the Duxbury/Kingston, MA town line from 1934-1974. The Camp was established in 1933 by three sisters, Ella Lewis Woodbury (1887-1975), Lillian Mae Lewis Hayes (b. 1896) and Beulah Lewis Fogg (b. 1898), and their husbands, John Woodbury, Coley Hayes and Zollie Fogg. The Lewis sisters were the daughters of William Barry Lewis (b. abt. 1857) and Adeline Worthing (b. abt. 1861) of Bartow, GA. William Lewis was the founder of the Lewis Grove School in Bartow.
The site of the camp was named Twin Oaks because of two large trees growing in front of the main house. Six double cottages were built on the site and a dining room was added on to the main house. The cottages were named after the sisters, including Leila, Mabel and Josephine Lewis, who were not partners.
Initially Camp Twin Oaks was to be a children’s residential camp – offering fresh air and summer fun to children of the African-American community and church groups. The fee was only one dollar. By 1937 the Camp had expanded it’s role to become a vacation center for both children and adults. It was the only destination catering specifically to the African-American community on the South Shore at that time. News of the Camp’s existence was spread by word of mouth and advertisements in newspapers such as The Amsterdam News, The Voice of New York and African-American newspapers in Chicago and Pittsburgh. By 1950 the rate for the season was $15 per week for adults; $7 for children. Accommodations included three meals a day, recreation and separate cottages for children. Later a heated pool was added.
The influx of tourists to the area brought additional revenue to the surrounding businesses in both Duxbury and Kingston. Guests would enjoy horseback riding at the Briggs Riding Stables, bathing at local beaches and visiting historic sites. Many prominent members of the African-American community visited Twin Oaks, including doctors and nurses from Harlem Hospital; civil rights leader A. Phillip Randolph; Dr. York Baily; Mr. and Mrs. J. P. King of the Penn School and singer Helen Holiday among others.
The partnership between the sisters was dissolved in the early 1940’s after the death of Beulah Fogg. The Camp was put up for auction in 1941 for the non-payment of taxes. John and Ella Woodbury paid the back taxes and became the sole proprietors. Lillian Mae and Coley Hayes moved to Kingston, MA and purchased the Kingston Inn.