(updated 1-31-10)

Cabin John, MD / Glen Echo Park /

The Spanish Ballroom (Elysium)




Map of Cabin John / Glen Echo, MD


Map of Glen Echo Park




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(From www.glenecho.org ) The Chautauqua was an educational movement that sought to unify the Protestant churches by bringing people together for classes, discussions, entertainment, and physical activity. The movement started in 1874 with the first Chautauqua Assembly at Lake Chautauqua, NY. The Baltzley brothers deeded 80 acres of their land to the National Chautauqua of Glen Echo, which became the 53rd Chautauqua Assembly. Glen Echo Park began in 1891 as a National Chautauqua Assembly, which taught the sciences, arts, languages and literature.

The Entrance to the Park, and path up to the Ballroom.

Unlike the Park in real life, you may drive your car up the path to the buildings, though the path is narrow and old.


Near the Carousel are Yurts. A Yurt is a round dwelling which is held together at the eaves by a tension band, with a cone shaped roof with a central compression ring skylight at the center top of the cone roof. This basic structure, used originally by the Mongolians, is the oldest form of prefab indigenous architecture still in use today and manufactured world wide.

(from www.nps.gov ) In 1971 then recent college graduates David Raitt, Marc Hansen, and Bruno Lefevre formed a company, "Synergic Design International Inc." They contracted with Bill's Yurt Design Inc. to construct a Yurt village for the American Crafts Council for a crafts event on the Mall in Washington. The event never happened so the village was never used for its original purpose and the components were stored at Glen Echo Park. The builders managed to persuade the National Park Service to let them erect the yurts in the park in 1972 and they have been providing accommodation ever since.

While approaching the Ballroom, the Yurts would be the first thing you see as you cross the bridge into the park.


(Wikipedia) Glen Echo used to be a trolley park accessible by the street car system; the park was designed to be the last stop on the cars so people could go there after work. The original park had several attractions, including bumper cars, shooting galleries, and an expansive rollercoaster. The park also had a large pool, the Crystal Pool, the remains of which can still be seen today, and a shooting gallery, which was stopped in WWII because of ammunition shortages. Like many public facilities in and around the Washington area, Glen Echo was restricted to whites. After a series of protests in the early 1960's, the park opened the doors to all races. However, the surrounding community complained about the influx of urban African Americans. As a result, the trolley and bus service to Glen Echo were closed.

The Original (Trolley) Entrance To Glen Echo Park, Yesterday and Today


(From www.glenecho.org ) In the 1950s attendance began to diminish as theme parks like Disneyland started drawing the crowds. The park was sold to Continental Enterprises in 1954, then to Rekab, Inc., in 1955. The park, however, was deteriorating seriously. The Midway became termite-ridden and was burned down by the fire department. In 1966, after an outbreak of vandalism, there was a dramatic drop in attendance. The park finally had its last season in 1968.

The Chautauqua Tower at the Original Entrance to the Park


(IC Alternate History continues) - The Park sat dormant, and in disrepair, for over 30 years, owned by a local H.O.A. LLC created to preserve the landmark, but who could not afford to continue the increasingly expensive task of restoration. In 2005, the Park property was purchased by a silent angel corporation and renovations began. The corporation has closed the park to the public, but there is evidence that much needed restoration is finally happening.

Candy Corner, Popcorn Stand, The Puppet Company (Defunct)


Past the Puppet Company is the Arcade, South of which is the Cuddle-up and Bumper Cars


The Bumper Cars are next to a picnic area which leads to the Spanish Ballroom.

The paved area here is where visitors would park their vehicles when attending the Ballroom.


Behind the Picnic Area is the Antique Dentzel Carousel


THE SPANISH BALLROOM (Now Elysium) - 1933 Mediterranean style Art Deco building

The outside of the ballroom



The Inside of the Ballroom



Next to the Elysium is the abandoned Crystal Pool swimming park