MHT File Photo
Mountain Lake Park Historic District
Mountain Lake Park, Garrett County
The Mountain Lake Park Historic District is a group of 145 buildings lying within the town of Mountain Lake Park, a residential community launched in the 1880s as a summer resort and important as a center of the Chautauqua movement in Maryland. The town is situated on a high plateau in the section of Garrett County known as "The Glades," about three miles east of Oakland in western Maryland. The street plan of Mountain Lake Park was designed by H.E. Faul, the creator of Druid Hill Park in Baltimore, and consists of a grid of streets through which run several curving drives. These were designed primarily as scenic carriage drives, particularly Mountain Lake Drive which follows the outline of the artificial lake created in the early 1880s on the eastern edge of town. The only major change to this plan occurred in the mid 20th century when MD 135 was run through the center of town in an east-west direction, thereby dividing Mountain Lake Park into approximately equal halves. The district still includes many of the houses built by summer residents of Mountain Lake Park in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The majority of these houses are frame and were built in various interpretations of the "Country Gothic" or Rural Queen Anne styles. Many are still painted in the original bright colors and are in generally good or fair condition. Several of the houses were sited to take advantage of a particular view or natural feature, and most stand on large wooded lots. Also within the district are several of the educational and recreational buildings constructed by the Mountain Lake Park Association, the Methodist-led group which owned and managed the town for many years after its founding in 1881. Notable buildings within the district include those associated with the Mountain Chautauqua program: the tabernacle, a ticket office, and the tennis clubhouse. There are also several outstanding and well maintained Queen Anne style summer residences built at the turn of the 20th century, along with a number of boarding houses dating from the period when Mountain Lake Park was a popular summer resort on the route of the B & O Railroad.
The Mountain Lake Park Historic District is significant for its association with the development of resort communities in late-19th century America, and for its cohesive collection of well-preserved buildings representing various types of resort architecture of the period. Among the resort communities which developed late in the 19th century in the mountains of Western Maryland in response to the B & O Railroad's extension of service to the area, Mountain Lake Park is unique. Established in 1881 by a group of Methodist ministers, the community's religious and educational programs and the code of conduct which it maintained, provided vacationers with an alternative to the sinful and frivolous entertainments available in other nearby resorts which were founded as secular, speculative ventures. Among the cultural programs offered in Mountain Lake Park was the "Mountain Chautauqua," which blended religious revivalism with cultural and educational activities. In its heyday between the 1880s and World War I, this program attracted thousands to the community for symphonies, operas, plays, and nationally prominent speakers including President Taft, Samuel Gompers, William Jennings Bryan, and Billy Sunday. The popularity of Mountain Lake Park during these years spurred the construction of numerous cottages, hotels, and boarding houses, as well as public buildings; the present Historic District retains many of these buildings in excellent condition, and achieves significance for its outstanding collection of late-19th and early-20th century resort architecture. The District also retains much of its original wooded setting and street plan, designed by landscape architect H.E. Faul.