Clara Barton National Historic Site and National Park Service office at Glen Echo Park winter hours
Both sites will begin their winter hours of operation 10:00 a.m - 4:00 p.m. daily Wednesdays - Sundays starting Saturday, December 29, 2013 through February 23, 2014. Glen Echo Park Partnership and co-operators will not be affected by these hours.
History & Culture
Glen Echo Park
Glen Echo Park has been a park dedicated to the people for over 100 years. Glen Echo Park has survived three different owners and uses, Chautauqua, Amusement Park and National Park.
A short history of Glen Echo Park is available for you to download.
Edwin and Edward Baltzley
Twin brothers Edwin and Edward Baltzley invented a reversible egg beater and received $250,000 for their invention. They invested in real estate and purchased over 500 acres of land. They named their new town "Glen Echo on the Potomac."
The Chautauqua at Glen Echo
Edwin and Edward Baltzley, inventors, industrialists, and real estate developers, hoped to build upon the banks of the Potomac River a suburban community free of the urban pollution of late-nineteenth century Washington, DC. In order to compete with other suburban developments, the Baltzley brothers planned a series of opulent attractions for their would-be community.
June 1891, their arts and culture program included lectures and concerts in a six thousand person amphitheater, special classes in Bible studies, Greek and Hebrew, physical training regiments, and university extension courses. Hundreds flocked to the site to picnic, attend lectures on American history by Jane Meade Welch, courses on ancient Egypt by Lysander Dickerman, and concerts by John Philip Sousa. Clara Barton, presided over the Women's Executive Committee for the Chautauqua itself. The inaugural season's success warranted an extension well into August. At the beginning of the 1892 season, rumor had spread throughout the District of Columbia that Glen Echo was rampant with malaria. Regardless of the validity of these accusations, when combined with the brother's precarious finances, the Chautauqua site fell into disuse
The Chautauqua Tower is the only surviving building of the Chautauqua era at Glen Echo. Today the Chautauqua Tower is used as a residential art studio. Here is a picture of the Chautauqua Tower today.
The Amusement Park at Glen Echo
In the early 20th century it was turned into an amusement park, which operated until the late 1960s. The trolley car from Washington, D.C. brought many people. Each year they added a new ride or attraction. These included the Crystal Pool, the Spanish Ballroom, the Midway, the carousel, a dodgem, skeeball alleys and shooting galleries, a penny arcade, the Pretzel, the Whip, the Coaster Dips, and the Flying Scooter. Glen Echo Amusement Park became a family playground with wholesome attractions.
Like many public facilities in and around the Washington area, Glen Echo was restricted to whites for 63 out of the first 70 years of its history. On June 30, 1960 a group of college students staged a sit-in protest on the carousel and five African American students were subsequently arrested. As a result, an eleven-week civil rights campaign began; students and residents of Bannockburn alike came out in force. The park opened the doors to all races in the 1961 season.
During the amusement park glory days, as an amusement park the 1921 Dentzel carousel was the jewel of the park and it still remains the most treasured centerpiece of the park. When the amusement park closed, its rides were sold, including the carousel. But local residents mounted an energetic campaign to raise private funds to buy the carousel back and donate it to the National Park Service. On one condition: it, and the organ, would remain at Glen Echo Park and be operated for public enjoyment. Here is a picture of the 1921 Dentzel carousel today.
The National Park Service
In 1971, after the federal government obtained the land, the National Park Service began managing the park. The National Park Service collaborated with artists and arts organizations to create a rich arts program in the spirit of the original Chautauqua movement. Today the park is managed by the nonprofit Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, Inc. on behalf of Montgomery County, Maryland.
The Park presents year-round activities in dance, theater, visual arts and environmental education. Among the most popular activities at Glen Echo Park are weekly dances in the Spanish Ballroom, performances by the Puppet Co. and Adventure Theatre, and special events such as Family Day and the annual Labor Day Art Show. The historic Dentzel carousel (dating back to 1921) is open May through September.
One of the greater Washington area's true treasures, the historic Glen Echo Park Dentzel carousel is in its 93rd year. The carousel remains the Park's crowning jewel from the amusement park era. Installed at Glen Echo Park in 1921, the canopy and the carved animals were made by the Dentzel Carousel Company of Germantown, Pennsylvania. It remains a classic example of hand woodcarving popular during the early years of the 20th century.
The 20-year restoration of the carousel was completed in 2003, and the carousel building was refurbished and repainted in 2005 as part of park-wide renovations under the direction of Montgomery County, MD and the National Park Service, with additional funding from the State of Maryland. We completed significant repairs to the carousel's band organ in 2011.