WHAT’S IN A NAME?
In the late 1880s, founders Edwin
and Edward Baltzley were looking
to start a new suburb and
discovered a spot where the
hills sloped to a glen and
schools: Harvard and Princeton avenues,
Vassar and Wellesley circles. Clara Barton,
founder of the American Red Cross, built
her house and organization headquarters
on Oxford Road in 1891.
Then, in 1892, Chautauqua business school director Henry Spencer
developed a fever, and fears of malaria
swirled. Barton herself tried to dispel the
rumors (Spencer later died of pneumonia, not malaria), but attendance waned
and the Chautauqua succumbed to debt.
In 1899, the Baltzleys rented the
grounds to the Glen Echo Co. for an
amusement park with rides and a
merry-go-round, later replaced by a
Dentzel Carousel. Edward had moved to
Colorado in 1897 to pan for gold, where
he developed mercury poisoning in the
process of prospecting. (He later died in
a sanitarium in Arkansas.) Edwin went
to live with his son in New Jersey. (He
eventually died penniless.) And in 1903,
the Chautauqua grounds and buildings
were foreclosed and later sold to the
Washington Railway and Electric Co.
The community expanded as amuse-
ment park workers and others began liv-
ing there year-round. In 1904, Glen Echo
became an incorporated town with a mayor
and town council. Over the decades, the
amusement park added new attractions,
but with deteriorating structures, other
modern amusements and the arrival of big-
ger theme parks, attendance declined and,
in 1968, the amusement park closed.
The National Park Service acquired Glen
Echo Park in 1970. The carousel remains,
and the nonprofit Glen Echo Park Part-
nership for Arts and Culture Inc. runs arts
and education programs to make the park
financially self-sufficient. n
I love the winding streets, the hilly terrain,
the diversity of trees, diversity of people.
We’re sitting right at the Potomac palisades,
so you see the river and everything that
happens with that. The change of seasons
here is really dramatic. You can watch the
storms come in. You see all the ducks and
geese and different birds flying.
Owner of McNair Builders Inc.