|Title||Chevy Chase Lake Lecture|
|Creator||William W. Duvall|
Transcription of Chevy Chase Lake Lecture, given by William W. Duvall for the Montgomery County Historical Society, 1995.
Location of Chevy Chase Lake Amusement Park as shown on a 1994 map.
East Side of Connecticut Avenue, 2 miles north of Chevy Chase Circle. A guess would say about 1893-1929.
The park site is now occupied by 8101 Connecticut Avenue Luxury Condominiums
Behind these buildings a stream, Coquelin Run flows into the former lake site. It has never been developed, a mass of bushes and trees 2 feet in diameter.
Moving east about 200 yards is the dam which today has almost been washed away.
To the north of the lake is Chevy Chase Lake Drive and the Chevy Chase Lake Building (B. F. Saul). They serve as a double memorial to the lake.
In 1891 there was virtually nothing in this area-a few widely scattered farms.
The Chevy Chase Land Company had plans during the next three years: They would dam up the stream to create Chevy Chase Lake. They would open the amusement park to attract people to the area. The would begin to build homes along Connecticut Avenue, north of the Circle. It should be noted that the B&O Railroad was somehow induced to build its Georgetown branch from west Silver Spring to Chevy Chase Lake in order to bring supplies. Travel by auto was in its infancy so the Land Company would also participate in the building of a streetcar line from the corner of 7th and Florida in Northwest DC in order to transport people to the park and see the homes which were being built along Conn Ave.
Rock Creek Railway streetcars at 7th and Florida Ave, NW
Calvert Street Bridge took the cars over the Rock Creek Valley
Then north up Conn Ave. to the Circle. Trolley car in Maryland at Irving Street.
The Chevy Chase Lake Area in 1925.
Aerial View looking south down Connecticut Avenue from Jones Bridge Road.
Steam engine pushing a freight train west toward Bethesda at the Columbia County Club. Looking south.
Street cars were turned on the loop to return to downtown Washington. An open car on the west side of the loop in front of the station, later, Grandma's Antique Shop. Another car line continued north to Kensington.
Capital Traction motormen and conductors. We are looking east with the trolley barn in the background. Behind the barn were the generators which provided electricity for the car line. The generators were cooled by an intake of water from the lake.
These larger cars served Chevy Chase from 1909 until the 1935 abandonment of the line. Park entrance is behind the car.
A lighting from the car, Nancy X, walks east across a wide foot bridge over Coquelin Run to the park.
The first thing she encountered was the dance pavilion. This is also the first time our audience will encounter one of our simulations. There are very few photographs of the park's attractions and we have tried to illustrate from the written descriptions of eye witnesses.
Walking to the rear of the dance pavilion and looking east Nancy gets a good view of the lake.
Second view looking down on the lake, 1902.
Path around the lake provides Nancy with a good walk.
Daughters Eva & Mary Taft are all smiles.
Boating was a popular attraction. Rental was $.05 cents per half hour.
Boating scenes are from The Robert Humphries Collection. Hydra Cycles (no illustration) were also available. Presumably a pedal powered paddle wheel.
Most of the attractions were located on the land adjacent to and on a level with Connecticut Avenue. The Chevy Chase Lake park had nothing as grand as a roller coaster. It was intended to be modest. An incentive to get people to ride to the end of the trolley line.
Chevy Chase's favorite historian is the late Edith Claude Jarvis. Her written description of the amusement park is a prime source of information for this program. She was in a good position to observe. Her father, Herbert Claude managed the Park. Records show that during peak years, 1907-1917, he had a written contract which required him to pay 10% of the park's income or $600 per year for the use of the property.
Mrs. Jarvis stated that the park had an atmosphere of dignity and quiet pleasure. The official season lasted from May until Labor Day. Music was the most constant form of entertainment during the years of the park's existence. Bear in mind that music did not come into the average household via radio or records until the 1920s. So it was quite a treat to come to Chevy Chase Lake and have music for dancing and music for listening, and music from the Merry-Go-Round.
This slide was made from the program of a concert given on June 30, 1904. By the way, it was provided by the Kensington Historical Society.
Mrs. Jarvis recounts that the bandstand was in the form of a mammoth seashell of delicate blue and illuminated by hundreds of colored lights (destroyed by fire?)
John Phillips Sousa lead the Marine Band on some occasions.
Following the concert the band moved to the rustic dance pavilion among the tall trees. The waltz, the polka and the two step were popular dances of the day.
In later years, Meyer Davis and his Society Orchestra provided much of the music. Mr. Davis was raised in nearby Ellicott City. He also played at the Shoreham Hotel and his popularity spread up the Atlantic Coast.
Singer Kate Smith was raised in Washington and sang at the park at the start of her career. Later she received national prominence with her song "When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain." In 1938, she helped to popularize the Irving Berlin song "God Bless America."
So much for the music portion.
A second source of information was James A. Pugh. As a boy he lived near the park and with 4 brothers performed many duties during the 1912-1920 period. In 1976 he wrote an account of the amusement park which included a diagram of the activities. He later became a Montgomery County Judge.
Horseback and pony rides. These horses were stabled at the nearby home of Park Manager, Herbert Claude. In 1910, a fire destroyed the buildings.
The rides were replaced by another kind of horse. The horse on the Merry-Go-Round.
The shooting gallery was another popular activity.
Mr. Pugh spotted or set up the pins in a 3-alley facility. There were boat swings which went high in the air…pulled by a long rope. No attempt to illustrate this one. There was also a small café which burned in 1922 but was rebuilt.
During the winter the park was closed but ice skates frequented the lake. Here we see Chevy Chase resident, Margaret Winkler, on Christmas day 1927. Is that a hockey stick in her hands? This slide was added to the program within the past month. The persistent research of Eleanor Ford.
The terrain in this simulation is very similar to Chevy Chase Lake. It would be looking south with Connecticut Avenue, not in view, but off to the right. Informal hockey game is taking place in the upper left. In January 1912, an 18-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl drowned when they went through thin ice near the water intake and outlet of the electric generator plant. Perhaps liability lawsuits were not as common as they are today.
In 1925, a large swimming pool opened on the west side of Connecticut Avenue across the avenue from the amusement park. Looking east with station and water tower in upper left. Signs in front of the street cars showed a beautiful diver poised on the diving board and caption "Swim for your health, Chevy Chase Lake Swimming Pool."
In later years it became a private pool and survived until 1972.
Credits to Contributors:
We wish to thank:
Montgomery County Historical Society and Jane Sween
Chevy Chase Historical Society and Joan Marsh
Kensington Historical Society and Edith Saul
Bob Truax, the Ultimate Historical Society
And my wife Charlotte who helped with the illustrations