Glen Echo Park-An Art Deco Masterpiece

By
Real Estate Agent with Integrity Real Estate Group

If you are a native of the DC area as I am then you may have memories of Glen Echo Park as an amusement park with a creaky wooden roller coaster, huge swimming pool, bumper cars and fantastic carousel.   The history of Glen Echo Park goes way beyond the days as a great amusement park.  In 1888 two brothers, Edwin and Edward Balztley purchased 516 acres and named it Glen Echo on the Potomac.   They compared the location to the Rhine River in Germany and began to build on the property.  For many years it was a gathering place for those who wanted to get out of the city and used as an education facility for the Chautauqua Assembly.

As the years went by the Park grew and by 1931 most of the amusement rides were in place and the huge “Crystal Pool.” which could accommodate up to 3000 swimmers was open.  By the 1940’s the park was starting to fall on hard times.  With the advent of WWII most of the men who were employed by the park were called to active duty.  Park attendance continued to fall and by the beginning of the 1960’s the park faced the challenge families moving from the city to the suburbs with more options for entertainment closer to home. 

The park closed its doors 1968 with the owners deciding to sell the property to developers who planned to build apartments on the banks of the Potomac River.  Fortunately because of the location and land use restrictions the owners instead traded the land to the National Park Service for another piece of property and Glen Echo was saved. 

For a few years the park remained in limbo and then it opened again, not as an amusement park but as an arts education facility offering classes for all ages.   Unfortunately the buildings, many of them nice examples of the Art Deco Style were falling into disrepair.  In cooperation with Montgomery County, MD the National Park Service was able to create a partnership to raise funds to save most of the buildings and restore the antique carousel the centerpiece of the entire park.

Today hundreds of courses are taught every year, including glass arts, dancing, puppetry, photography and painting.  For me it has been a round trip from enjoying the Carousel as a child to now being a long time student at the glass school.  If you haven’t taken a trip to check out this piece of DC history put it on your plans.  Located just off McArthur Blvd and the Clara Barton parkway it is easy to get to and you can also enjoy a walk along the locks of the C&O Canal at the same time.

 

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If you are interested in learning more about the Northern Virginia Real Estate market including Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William Counties give Cindy Jones and Integrity Real Estate Group a call at 703-346-2213.

Military Relocation Specialist serving military families relocating to and from the Pentagon, Fort Belvoir, Quantico MCB and all of the Military District of Washington installations. 

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Check out www.varealestatetalk.com and www.cjrealtygroup.com for more information.

Integrity Real Estate Group
 
Real People*Real Life*Real Estate

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Rainer
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Vicky Poe
Good Ole Rocky Top - Crossville, TN
Realtor/ Auctioneer
You gave a very interesting history of a local landmark.
Dec 27, 2007 11:55 AM #1
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Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital
Cindy, they also have dancing in the ballroom!  If you're all feet, you can come early for dance instruction (maybe Brian Block and his bride are among the instructors?).  I have several friends who are as addicted to it as I am to Active Rain.
Dec 27, 2007 11:57 AM #2
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Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News
Patricia-Oh yes the Spanish Ballroom is a happening place!  I like to stop in and listen to the music and watch the folks dance when I am going or coming from a glass class.
Dec 27, 2007 12:09 PM #3
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Cathy Shiflett
Ramsey Real Estate-Rockbridge Real Estate Connection LLC - Lexington, VA
Lexington, Buena Vista & Rockbridge County
Cindy- My mom use to talk of going to Glen Echo Park when she was a WAC in the Navy. I really enjoyed reading the history of the Park and can't wait to let her know that it still thrives in other ways. I am a Air Force brat, so, I remember growing up on the ocean and spending every minute I was awake at Buckroe Beach. We all made a special trip down to say our final good byes the year it was demolished. Thanks for bringing back good memories.
Dec 27, 2007 10:30 PM #4
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Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News
Cathy-I hope your mom will enjoy the news about Glen Echo.  Our Sunday School class went to Glen Echo a number of times when I was young and I loved the bumper cars.  When I rediscovered it 5 years ago the renovations were just starting and a lot of activities were in temporary buildings.  Now it is a great place to go and I hope more people will rediscover what it has to offer.
Dec 27, 2007 11:34 PM #5
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Michael Greenslade
Better Homes & Gardens | Mason-McDuffie Real Estate - San Leandro, CA

Wow,  do you know of a web resource where we can find more information about this art-deco amusment park.  How Cool.

 

Dec 28, 2007 02:45 AM #6
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Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News
Michael-you can go to the National Park Service site and read more about the history of Glen Echo.
Dec 28, 2007 07:27 AM #7
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Jo-Anne Smith
Oakville, ON

Cindy, What a wonderful story. I'm so glad that they saved the park and put it to such excellent use. Beautiful pictures...the kind of place I would love to visit.

Jo 

Dec 28, 2007 01:23 PM #8
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Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News
Jo-Anne-if you ever make a visit to the DC area give me a call.  I'd be glad to give your a tour of Glen Echo and lots of other great sites in our area.
Dec 28, 2007 10:42 PM #9
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