Friday, July 13, 2012

Glen Echo Deco

My classroom

There's very little Americana in the Washington DC suburbs, it all tends to be either too tasteful or too new. I recently signed up for a sculpture class at Glen Echo Park, Maryland,  about 30 mins drive round the beltway from home. I knew it was quite a center for art, dance and music classes but I had no idea they were housed in what was formerly an amusement park.

The buildings are beautifully preserved. It's surprisingly appropriate that they are being used to house artists' studios and galleries because in the late 1800s, before the amusement park was built in 1911, the park was part of a program called the National Chautauqua Assembly. This was an adult education movement with Methodist roots, dedicated to teaching science, arts, languages and literature and once referred to by former president Theodore Roosevelt as "the most American thing about America". There were traveling programs and some permanent sites, including Glen Echo.

 I wore the right color!

The amusement park closed in 1968 and in '71 the Federal Government bought the land. The National Park Service collaborated with art organizations to create a visual and performing arts program on the site which would be in the spirit of the original Chautauqua movement. What an inspired decision.

It's an evening class, so I nipped out to enjoy the lights. Wonderful!

Anyone got a spare bulb?

1 comment:

  1. Love that missing bulb - gives it a sort of nostalgic charm!