The Washington Daily News
Wednesday July 23, 1958, p. 25.

"Happyland" - 185 Slot Machines

Mt. Vernon Is Just a Stop on the Way to Marshall Hall

For more than 80 years, Washington families have sailed down the Poromac on bright summer days, ignored the historic appeal of Mt. Vernon and stopped across the river at the Marshall Hall amusment park.

The park land, once owned by the Piscataway Indian tribe, was sold to the "Marshall" family in about 1690 by Chief Achatamuka" for 3000 pounds of tobacco. The Marshalls built the mansion known as "Marshall Hall" and lived there until they lost it in the Civil War.

In 1876, the new owners turned the estate into an amusement park, and since then it has been a favorite summer stop for Washingtonians.


Resident manager Lorenzo C. Addison, who came to the park in 1933 when the Wilson Line, of Wilmington, Del. leased the property from the "Marshall Hall and Mt. Vernon Steamboat Co., Ltd.," said the park's biggest battle always has been with the fame of Mt. Vernon. "When I first came here," Mr. Addison said, "there was talk of restoring 'Marshall Hall,' but then they decided that a dead president pulls too many people over at Mt. Vernon and dropped the idea."

This year, Mr. Addison said, a group known as "Pot O' Gold Inc." spent $100,000 on a concession that includes a snack bar, regular bar, and features "Happyland" a building packed with 185 slot machines. "They're 'wonder boxes,'" Mr. Addison said. 'One-armed bandits' is a crude expression."

Kept Separate

"Happyland" is just a few steps from the regular amusements, such as a swimming pool, roller coaster, merry-go-round, shooting gallery, and countless "kiddie" rides, but the management has taken every precaution to keep "Happyland" separate from the children's amusements.

In sharp contrast to the rest of the park is the peaked-roofed, shingled mansion, about 50 years older than Mt. Vernon. Mr. Addison lives there now in cool summer comfort behind the 20-inch thick walls.

In recent years, Mr. Addison said, both Federal and Charles County governments have cut into the 375-acre estate with highway improvements, but otherwise the estate is about the same size as when it was located in Prince Georges County. "This used to be part of Prince Georges," Mr. Addison said, "but it was so far away from Upper Marlboro they finally moved the boundary about 500 yards north."

Stiking Constrast

As for the once great days of Marshall Hall, historian Minnie Kendall-Lowther wrote back in 1926 of the "striking contrast" between the modern pleasure resort "... and the staid characters and religious fervor of the founders of this estate."

Even so, Mrs. Kendall-Lowther observed the Marshalls "...had their wine glass, their card game, and their fast horses. General Washington...participated in many games about the card table when Thomas Hanson Marshall was master of this ... hall.

The first shipload of the day docks at Marshall Hall.

Hot dogs are a foot long.

Manager Addison and the old mansion.

The pool next to "Happyland."

Inside "Happyland" rows of slot machines take coins of almost all denominations.

Reference: Washington Daily News article courtesy of Clinton Addison.

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