TwHP Lessons

Glen Echo Park:
Center for Education and Recreation

[Cover photo] The Spanish Ballroom
(The Spanish Ballroom by Cathie Nelson)

The foot-hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains hurry down to the Potomac at Glen Echo and there pause in high plateau overlooking the long descent of the majestic river. Bold and precipitous they drop 125 feet to the murmuring edge of the waters under the eloquent shade of the giant trees and luxuriant foliage. Looking to the East, when the sun is in midheavens, the white shaft of the Washington Monument gleams against a southern sky, blue and soft as Italy's. To the north uprise the caressing hills, so near their summits overhang the slumberous highland plain; to the south the river, and above its shining waters the Virginia hills in long line and competing altitudes; to the west a picturesque stretch of plain, and then the misty line of the Blue Ridge, confusing itself with the configuration of the clouds.1

This spectacular Maryland location, so lovingly described by Edward and Edwin Baltzley, its first developers, has served the people of Washington, D.C., as a center for education and recreation for more than 100 years. It was first developed as a chapter of the widespread Chautauqua movement–a Protestant ecumenical effort to democratize learning and spread culture from the well-to-do to the masses. Early in the 20th century the area was redeveloped as a trolley park, and now the site is preserved as a national park. The trends that impacted the development and redevelopment of the Glen Echo Park site are not unusual; the fact that they impacted the same area of space is. This unique survivor, a traditional gathering place for the people of Washington, D.C., provides students with the opportunity to study the evolution of the American concepts of education, recreation, and social interaction in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

1Edwin Baltzley, Glen Echo on the Potomac: Washington Rhine (Philadelphia: Frank Gutekunst Press), 1891.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Glen Echo, MD and surrounding region

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. The National Chautauqua of Glen Echo
 2. The Glen Echo Amusement Park

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Glen Echo Park today
 2. Chautauqua entrance, c. 1891
 3. Glen Echo Park entrance, c. 1938
 4. Glen Echo Park entrance, 1995
 5. The Arcade building, 1995
 6. The Cuddle­Up, 1995

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Architecture in Your Own Neighborhood
 2. An Old Fashioned Independence
 Day Celebration

 3. Recreation and Segregation

Supplementary Resources

How to Use a TwHP Lesson

Lessons on Related Topics

TwHP Home

National Register Home

About the National Register

How the National Register
Helps Teachers

Contact TwHP

Glen Echo Park

This lesson is based on the Glen Echo Amusement Park, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.




Comments or Questions

National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.