Glen Echo Park Historic District - Glen Echo MD
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Don.Morfe
N 38° 57.972 W 077° 08.316
18S E 314717 N 4315200
Quick Description: Glen Echo Park is significant as the site of the late-19th century Chautauqua movement at Glen Echo, Maryland; as a rare surviving regional example of an early-20th century amusement park of architectural and historical significance.
Location: Maryland, United States
Date Posted: 7/24/2022 12:27:48 PM
Waymark Code: WM16FZJ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 0

Long Description:
National Register of Historic Places -- Nomination

Glen Echo Park Historic District
Inventory No.: M: 35-41
Date Listed: 6/8/1984
Location: 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, Montgomery County
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 1891-1892; 1899-1940s

Significance: Glen Echo Park is significant as the site of the late-19th century Chautauqua movement at Glen Echo, Maryland; as a rare surviving regional example of an early-20th century amusement park of architectural and historical significance; and as a major commercial and recreational facility for area residents and visitors from its establishment in 1899 on the site of the short-lived Chautauqua until its closing in 1968. Although the rides and amusements are gone, sufficient major buildings and structures of this fragile kind of resource remain to convey the visual environment of the amusement park as it existed in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. The Chautauqua movement, so-called from the first assembly of its adherents on the shore of Lake Chautauqua, New York, in 1874, was an effort to democratize learning within an ecumenical Protestant religious framework by bringing the culture of the well-to-do to the masses. By 1891 the movement had expanded from its permanent home base to 52 more modest assemblies conducting two-week summer programs of educational lectures, classes, and entertainments in tents. The idea caught hold in Washington, D.C., where several groups formed a Chautauqua Union to plan programs from the area. By 1889, the Baltzley brothers, Edwin and Edward, had acquired some 1300 acres on the Maryland bank of the Potomac, and construction began quickly on two principal structures--the Amphitheater and the Hall of Philosophy--and on the stone tower, archway, and adjoining buildings forming the gateway to the campus. The assembly opened in 1891 with the buildings still unfinished, although the Amphitheater was sufficiently complete to accommodate the large dedication crowd. The array of Chautauqua programs was well attended by several hundred persons until August. But this first successful season proved to be the last. In late August, Dr. Henry Spencer, head of the Chautauqua's business school, died of pneumonia. Rumor spread that he had contracted malaria, making people reluctant to visit the area. In 1899 the National Chautauqua property was leased to the Glen Echo Company, an amusement park venture. In 1911, the Washington Railway and Electric Company bought Glen Echo and the modern amusement park was built. By 1913 a dance hall had been built, and a roller coaster was constructed. In 1921 the carousel was built, and in 1923 the bumper car pavilion was built to house the dodgem bumper car. The structures housing the carousel and bumper cards are significant for their late Queen Anne and Shingle Style influenced design which recall the original architectural styling of the first phase of the amusement park development. The park saw its most successful years between 1923 and 1939, and attendance began to decline in the 1950s when vacationing Washingtonians began to cross the Bay to Ocean City via the new Bay Bridge. In 1956 the amphitheater was deliberately burned down by park authorities to make way for a parking lot. In June 1960, picketers protested the park's policy of segregation, and Glen Echo was opened to African Americans for the first time on March 31, 1961. By 1968 however, the park was defunct and was purchased by the National Park Service.
Street address:
7300 MacArthur Blvd
Glen Echo, MD United States

County / Borough / Parish: Montgomery County

Year listed: 1984

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1925-1949, 1900-1924, 1875-1899

Historic function: Recreation And Culture

Current function: Landscape, Recreation And Culture

Privately owned?: no

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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