The Athens Clarke Heritage Foundation says it was begun in 1933 by the local American Legion Post, and finished by the Works Progress Administration in 1936. Since then, Legion Pool has been a vital part of summer life for the Athens and university communities.
This summer may be its last. University of Georgia officials have asked for permission to demolish the historic structure. They did so in a letter to Elizabeth Shirk, environmental review coordinator for the Historic Preservation Division, part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The pool isn’t on the National Register, but it could be, because it was built by the Works Progress Administration.
The university acquired the pool in the 1950s, though the City of Athens operated it through the 1970s. According to the June 26 letter from Paul Cassilly in the Office of University Architects, the pool has “compromised structural conditions that contribute to significant daily water loss.”
A paper prepared by Ashley Baker Pruitt for the Athens Clarke Heritage Foundation newsletter notes that “recent approval by the state Board of Regents to replace aging Bolton Hall has resulted in an uncertain future for nearby Legion Pool. On a map released by the University outlining the proposed construction of a new dining hall in UGA’s Northwest Precinct, Legion Pool is quietly absent.”
With its shaded pavilion and picnic tables, huge changing rooms and concession stand, Legion Pool is a popular place in the summer for both UGA faculty and staff and their families, and for community members. Like the UGA track further south on Lumpkin, it’s a facility that those not employed by the university can enjoy.
This spring, UGA demolished another WPA building when it razed historic Rutherford Hall.
“We think the university should move forward with a campuswide plan for its historic properties,” said Amy Kissane, executive director of the Athens Clarke Heritage Foundation. “It’s something the university needs to do.”