Echo Lake

Echo Lake (HMI07)

Location: Glen Allen, VA 23060 Henrico County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 40.461', W 77° 32.847'

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A Place to Meet, A Sense of Community

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 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.
HM NumberHMI07
Placed ByCounty of Henrico
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, October 3rd, 2014 at 9:41pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 275336 N 4172738
Decimal Degrees37.67435000, -77.54745000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 40.461', W 77° 32.847'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 40' 27.66" N, 77° 32' 50.82" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 5701-5729 Springfield Rd, Glen Allen VA 23060, US
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