Friday, October 9, 2009

Glen Echo, MD

On Sunday, I headed over to Glen Echo Park which used to be an amusement park in the early 1900's and before that a National Chautauqua Assembly, which taught the sciences, arts, languages, and literature from 1891. Today the park is used for arts and culture but retains many of the old buildings.
There used to be a pool, a roller coaster, amusement rides and a ballroom. The only transport used was a trolley which brought people to the park from Georgetown since there were no cars back then.

The Cuddle Up was a 'teacup' ride and the building behind used to house a shooting gallery and other attractions. The Dodgems has survived but is now used as a dance floor while the Spanish Ballroom has been fully restored. This was built in 1933 with Bill Haley & the Comets, Lawrence Welk, Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw being some of the big names playing there.

It was brought back to restoration and maintained mainly by Stan Fowler who after spending many years at the park was moved to another despite complaints from the ballroom's users and the public. I read about him in the Washington Post and wanted to see the floor he spent so much of his time on.
Near the ballroom is another wonderful attraction, the Dentzel Carousel, which was installed in 1921, but nearly moved to California until the local community raised funds to buy and donate it to the National Park Service.

It took 20 years for the Carousel to be fully restored and was finished in 2003. Unfortunately, the building closed for the winter only a few days before I got there so I was only able to peer through the window.

There are also artist studios here with a glass works and a pottery. One artist who caught my eye was J. Jordan Bruns who drew the graphite drawings above. I thought they were better than Escher.

In 1972 six yurts were added to the park which are cupcake buildings used by the artists. Some have grass growing on their roof and strange little doorways but they make cute little studios.
This is inside the pottery yurt, where I chatted with the potter about his little residence. Apparently, the lack of air conditioning causes some issues in the summer.

This is a beautiful park and one I'd love to visit again in the evening when the neon lights are lit. There will be another entry in the future!

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