The Herald Bulletin

April 25, 2013

Anderson's Athletic Park pool is ‘endangered’

City landmark added to top-10 list by nonprofit state group

By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — The Anderson Park Athletic Pool is in hot water.

Once home to summer swimming lessons and games, the pool has been threatened by vandalism and deterioration following its closure in 2007. And now, it’s endangered.

On Thursday, nonprofit Indiana Landmarks named the pool to its 10 Most Endangered, an annual list of Hoosier landmarks in jeopardy. The goal of the list, said president Marsh Davis, is “to save meaningful places,” especially those with revitalization potential and lots of memories.

And the pool certainly has that, said John Anderson, who remembers swimming there when he was a boy.

“That pool has got a lot of memories for, not just me,” he said, “but for many people in this community.”

The city “has plans in place and hopes to see it (the pool) open again,” said spokeswoman Charlee Turner. She said they’ve been working with members of the community to raise awareness.

Anderson and acquaintance Carol Blakeley have also been raising money, and had roughly $5,300 in the bank as of Thursday.

“This pool is something in our community that has positive stories,” Anderson said. “We don’t have too many of those, so we need to save the ones that do.”

There have been only 12 losses among the 92 historic places listed by Indiana Landmarks since 1991, which is why the ‘endangered’ designation might actually be a good thing, said Doug Zook, economic development specialist for urban downtown development in Anderson.

“Personally, I think it’s exciting,” he said, because it could open the door for grants and draw attention to the pool and its unique history.  

Unbeknownst to the thousands of kids who grew up playing Marco Polo there, the Athletic Park pool is one of only a handful of the 130 of its kind still standing, he said.

Built in 1925, it was designed by engineer Wesley Bintz, who patented an egg-shaped above-ground pool with dressing rooms hidden under the structure.

“I believe it’s the only one that’s still standing in Indiana,” Zook said.  “We have a first generation of Bintz’s pool designs that’s still standing and in pretty good shape, but it needs some love.”

Reporter Stu Hirsh contributed to this story.



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