For over a century, Glen Echo Park has welcomed visitors to an ever changing venue of activities. The history of constant change, though, has often led to tension as Chautauqua dreamers, amusement park thrill seekers, and National Park Service preservationists sought to adapt to the needs of visitors.
Edward and Edwin Baltzley in 1891 hoped to entertain and educate an urban populace within a National Chautauqua while preserving the site's rugged natural beauty. The amusement park owners thrilled visitors with an ever evolving sensory-stimulating landscape while spending as little as possible. Finally, the National Park Service and the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture have collaborated to provide the public with appealing artisan studio spaces while preserving the park's diverse history.
As a premier suburban retreat for over 120 years, Glen Echo Park has undergone many changes and today serves as a prime example of various preservation methods and adaptive reuse within the National Park Service.
Part of the preservation and adaptive reuse process is determining whether to preserve, rehabilitate, restore, or reconstruct historic structures. These treatment options are neither technical nor prescriptive, but are intended to promote responsible preservation practices that help protect our nation's irreplaceable cultural resources.
After 120 years, all that remains from the Baltzley's Chautauqua from 1891 is a solitary stone tower. But their idea of a premier greenspace where visitors could preserve and restore themselves has thrived as a vibrant community. Through the principles of preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction, the National Park Service has guaranteed the usefulness and historical integrity of Glen Echo Park for this and future generations.