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Object ID 1000.116.01
Title Chevy Chase Lake
Object Name Exhibit
Date May 12, 2005
Creator Evelyn Gerson
Description Chevy Chase Lake

Exhibit produced by Evelyn Gerson for the Chevy Chase Historical Society. Exhibit on display for Community Day on May 12, 2005 at Classic Residence by Hyatt, 8100 Connecticut Avenue.

This building at 8100 Connecticut stands within an area presently referred to as Chevy Chase Lake-rather deceiving since the only trace of water is a small stream. In 1893, however, the Chevy Chase Land Company dammed Cocquelin Run and a small man-made lake formed to serve as both a water source to help generate electricity to run Rock Creek Railway's streetcars as well as a recreational magnet for those living in the District.

Across Connecticut Avenue (where Chevy Chase Bank is now located) was once the northern terminus for the streetcar line into the District, and as such, had a trolley station, car barn, and power station.

Farther east from the tracks, pleasure seekers wanting to escape the heat of the city and find some recreational activities sought out the popular amusement park. Patrons could row a boat across the lake, listen to music at the illuminated bandstand, picnic around the shores, or dance in the evening. In later years, more pavilions were added to offer bowling, a shooting gallery, a carousel, and roller skating.

During the Depression, the trolley route and the park struggled to make a profit, but by 1937, both had shut down and the lake was drained.


Photograph (2008.200.02):
Program from Concert at Chevy Chase Dance Pavillion, 1904.
Gift of Bill Duvall.


The Marine Corps Band frequently played at the park, but many other popular-and big name-entertainers, such as John Philip Sousa and Eubie Blake also performed for the crowds. Audiences could also see vaudeville acts and circus troupes.


Photograph (2008.411.14):
Drawing of Chevy Chase Lake Pavilions and Trolley Barn, Circa 1940.
By Bill Duvall.


Photograph (2008.200.13)
Chevy Chase Lake Carousel, Circa 1920s.
Courtesy of the Montgomery County Historical Society.


Photograph (2008.200.19):
Boating on Chevy Chase Lake, Circa 1900s.
Courtesy of Edith Jarvis.


Photograph (1988.12.02):
Rock Creek Railway's Chevy Chase Lake Terminus, 1892.
Courtesy of Leroy O. King, Jr.


This photo appeared in the January 14, 1893 issue of Electrical World. Featured in the right of the photo are the car barn and powerhouse in the background, the refreshment kiosk in the foreground. To the left of the frame, a B & O rail car can be seen crossing Connecticut. Today this old track is a "rails to trails" path used by cyclists and walkers.



Photograph (2007.32.14):
Postcard Featuring View of Powerhouse from Chevy Chase Lake.
Courtesy of Joseph Valachovic.

Photograph (1000.116.01a):
Chevy Chase Lake Swimming Pool.
Courtesy The Towne newspaper, April 1995.

Photograph (2008.200.16):
Chevy Chase Lake Swimming Pool, circa 1970
Courtesy Bill Duvall


The lake appealed to boaters, but was never considered safe for swimming. To capitalize on this growing new recreation, George Heon opened a large swimming pool in 1927, across the street from lake. The pool's admission building stood adjacent to the train depot on the western side of Connecticut Avenue. The pool long survived the amusement park, closing in 1972.




Bibliography

Boyd's Directory of the District of Columbia (Washington, DC: R.L. Polk & Company), 1918.

Chevy Chase United Methodist Church: 75th Anniversary, 1912-1987.

Elizabeth Jo Lampl and Kimberly Protho Williams' Chevy Chase: A Home Suburb for the Nation's Capital (Crownsville, MD: Maryland Historic Trust Press),1998.

Judith Helm Robinson's "Chevy Chase: A Bold Idea, A Comprehensive Plan" published in Washington At Home, Kathryn Schneider Smith, ed. (Windsor), 1988.

The Town of Chevy Chase: Past and Present, (Montgomery County, MD: Town of Chevy Chase), 2000.


About the Community Day event:

CCHS CELEBRATES COMMUNITY DAY AT THE CLASSIC RESIDENCE

On May 12, 2005, the CCHS joined other local organizations and businesses to celebrate the Classic Residence by Hyatt's 15th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, residents hosted a Community Day complete with a professionally staged replica of Connecticut Avenue, live music, and tasty food. Volunteers Susan Elwell, Evelyn Gerson, Alice Kinter, Helen Secrest, and Julie Thomas, along with then-President Angela Lancaster spoke with attendees about the historical society's activities and upcoming events. Many of the residents who approached our table were new to the area and enjoyed learning about the founding of Chevy Chase. They also took in our exhibit about Chevy Chase Lake, the area across the street from their building (behind the high-rise housing Chevy Chase Bank) where a small man-made lake and popular amusement park existed until 1937. What most surprised residents was to learn that before the Classic Residence, a popular swimming pool once stood at 8100 Connecticut Ave!