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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Glen Allen in Henrico County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Echo Lake

A Place to Meet, A Sense of Community

 
 
Echo Lake Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, January 30, 2010
1. Echo Lake Marker
Inscription. Echo Lake was formed in the mid-19th century from Meredith Branch a 3.5-mile between Broad Street and the Chickahominy Swamp. During the late 1800s, the lake powered a flour mill. Echo Lake earned its name because you could hear your voice echo when you called out across the water.

In 1909, Jacob E. Lewis, an African-American farmer and preacher, bought Echo Lake and established it as a recreation area for African-Americans. After his death, there were unsuccessful attempts by commercial organizations to continue Lewis’ vision. In 1930, a group of area residents joined to create Echo Lake, Inc., and bought the property. Throughout the decade, the lake and grounds became a popular destination for dances, picnics, boat rides, sporting activities and camping for the Black community. Church congregations including Mt. Olive Baptist, Mount Vernon Baptist, and Abner Baptist gathered for baptisms on Sunday mornings.

During a period of strict racial segregation, Echo Lake provided a place for African-Americans to meet, recreate and relax. Many locals remember the “tightness of the community” that was the result of having a place to congregate and discuss the news. Others remember the music and dancing that abounded with the talents of the Johnson’s Happy Pals Orchestra. This ten-member group of black Richmond
Baptism of Mt. Olive Baptist Church members at Echo Lake, Sunday, Sept. 25th, 1938. image. Click for full size.
January 30, 2010
2. Baptism of Mt. Olive Baptist Church members at Echo Lake, Sunday, Sept. 25th, 1938.
Photo by A.D. Price, Jr., courtesy of Esther Winston
musicians, formed in 1927, was a regular attraction at the lake’s pavilion. In 1929, the band won a contest in New York City winning over orchestras directed by Count Basie, Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington.

By 1940, much of the activity had subsided except for fishing, picnics and an occasional baptism. The County of Henrico purchased the property in 1981 and developed the site as a public park with a 1.5-mile hiking trail, pedestrian bridge, playground and picnic shelter.
 
Erected by County of Henrico.
 
Location. 37° 40.461′ N, 77° 32.847′ W. Marker is in Glen Allen, Virginia, in Henrico County. Marker can be reached from Springfield Road 0.2 miles east of Echo Lake Drive. Click for map. This marker is located above the parking lot in Echo Lake Park. Marker is in this post office area: Glen Allen VA 23060, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Coal Pit School (approx. ¾ mile away); Hanover County / Henrico County (approx. 0.9 miles away); Courtney Road Service Station (approx. 1.6 miles away); a different marker also named Courtney Road Service Station (approx. 1.6 miles away); Meadow Farm
Echo Lake Pleasure Boat, ca. 1935. image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, January 30, 2010
3. Echo Lake Pleasure Boat, ca. 1935.
Left to right: Julia Melton Thornton, Herman D. Melton, Jr. and Camilla Melton Miller, Julia Melton and Herman D. Melton, Sr. Courtesy of Julia Melton Thornton
(approx. 1.7 miles away); a different marker also named Meadow Farm (approx. 1.7 miles away); Sheppard and Baker's Grant (approx. 1.7 miles away); Box Car (approx. 1.9 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Glen Allen.
 
More about this marker. On the upper right is a photo of a "Baptism of Mt. Olive Baptist Church members at Echo Lake, Sunday, Sept. 25th, 1938. Photo by A.D. Price, Jr., courtesy of Esther Winston"

On the lower right is a photo of children in the "Echo Lake Pleasure Boat, ca. 1935. Left to right: Julia Melton Thornton, Herman D. Melton, Jr. and Camilla Melton Miller, Julia Melton and Herman D. Melton, Sr. Courtesy of Julia Melton Thornton"
 
Categories. 20th CenturyAfrican AmericansChurches, Etc.
 
Echo Lake Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, January 30, 2010
4. Echo Lake Marker
Echo Lake image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, January 30, 2010
5. Echo Lake
Echo Lake Park image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, January 30, 2010
6. Echo Lake Park
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,442 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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