Enjoy the pool one last time for just $180th year will be its last, as leaders prepare for new facility

By on August 31, 2011



This classic photo, believed to be from 1954, shows Marian Summers holding her nephew Tim Sweigart in the community pool, which was then called the American Legion pool. Notice the gazebo on left at the site of the current filtration area. (Photo courtesy of Ephrata Recreation Center)This classic photo, believed to be from 1954, shows Marian Summers holding her nephew Tim Sweigart in the community pool, which was then called the American Legion pool. Notice the gazebo on left at the site of the current filtration area. (Photo courtesy of Ephrata Recreation Center)

Enjoy the final days of summer at the old Ephrata Community Pool where everyone pays $1 admission through the Labor Day weekend (Sept. 2 through Sept. 5). Help us celebrate the final days of the season and the final days of the pool as we know it before the new renovation.

As the Ephrata Community Pool closes its gates on Labor Day, it will complete its 80th year of operation, making it the oldest continuously operated swimming pool in Lancaster County.

Milton H. Heinicke in his book "History of Ephrata" described the land on which the pool is located as formerly owned by Samuel W. Hess. Hess had a nursery and tree farm on the property and the meadow along the Cocalico Creek hosted a local swimming hole known as the "101." This three and one-half acre tract was later purchased by Hess’s son, Menno W. Hess.

Around 1930, Menno W. Hess, Kreider Kurtz, John Kurtz and some of the Gerharts, according to Heinicke, formed the Ephrata Swimming Pool Association. At that time Menno W. Hess deeded the property to the Ephrata Swimming Pool Inc. for $3,000.

It was during the spring of 1931 that the main pool (as it is currently known) was built. There was a grand opening of the pool on Aug. 1, 1931. According to an advertisement on file at the Rec Center it was billed as "The modern version of the ole’ swimming hole, with filtered water." Activities that day were a water carnival, swimming contests, exhibitions and a concert.

It was during the mid ’30s that the American Legion Post No. 429 purchased controlling stock in the Ephrata Park Association and eventually acquired the swimming pool. For the next 25 years the Legion owned the pool, which had a large wooden bath house, a basket system for clothes and a snack bar. Over the years a large wooden gazebo was constructed along the pool for dances. Later in the Legion era there was a miniature golf course built in the area where the competition pool is now.

Then, in 1961, the Borough of Ephrata entered into agreement with the Legion and purchased the park and pool. Starting in 1962 the Borough operated the pool and built a large tent structure in the golf area for the first "teen center." In 1965 the Borough did the first renovations to the pool by constructing a new bath house (site of the old bath house), renovating the main pool with a modern filtration system, building the competition pool and building the wading pool.

In the 50 years of Borough management the filtration system on all the pools was renovated again in the 1982, gutters replaced in 1985 and the bath house renovated in 1997.

When the gates open in 2012 in its 81st year of operation, the Borough of Ephrata will be renovating the pools once again to include zero depth entry, infant and children interactive water features, poolside climbing walls, a six-lane 25 meter racing pool, water slides ranging from 7 to 17 feet, a renovated bathhouse and a new snack bar. All pools’ entries will meet the American Disabilities Act and all the filtration systems will be state-of-the art.

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