SWIMMING POOL and Bath House

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 10: BUILT ENVIRONMENT (Physical Plant)
Swimming Pool, 1923 – 2013
Bath House, 1979 – present

SWIMMING POOL and Bath House

Swimming Pool with divers. Arthur W. Dodd Album. [dodd_A_060_mod.jpg]


Swimming Pool, 1923 – 2013
Bath House, 1979 – present

TAGS: Swimming Pool, Bath House, swimming, aquatics, recreation, boarding school students, local community, Community School, Harlan County Health Department, Kentucky State Department of Health, filtration system, Limestone Creek, reservoir, rituals, Senior Olympics, Lela Christian

Swimming Pool and Bath House. View of pool painted in blue.

Swimming Pool and Bath House. View of newly painted pool, c. 1979. [swimming_pool_451.jpg]

The Swimming Pool, located in the center of the campus, was constructed in 1923 and was used steadily by the students of the boarding school.

The construction of the pool was at the request of students who wanted the pool as part of their recreation offerings. To realize their dream, they actively participated in raising and contributing money for the construction of the pool. The students saved money by eating selected meals or cocoa and rice once a week in order to contribute toward the purchase of materials to build the pool.

In 1938 the pool was briefly closed in the summer to give it a major inspection, clean, and repair. The pool continued to be popular with the local community following the closure of the boarding school in 1949. During the Harlan County Community School years (1949-1972), the pool was a popular summer recreation location for families in the Pine Mountain surrounding area, but the pool was not integrated into the Community School programming. Following the closure of the on-campus Community School in 1972 and into the 1990s the pool continued to be heavily used by the Pine Mountain community and was a welcome relief from the summer heat.

In the 1960s, when the Pool was given an extensive remodel and was painted with an aqua paint sealer and the small wading pool was refurbished, it came under the scrutiny of the Harlan County Health Department. At that time, work on the pool included the request of the Kentucky State Department of Health and Harlan County to upgrade their filtration system. The State health mandates included the requirement of a new filtration system on all public swimming pools. This was a new health consideration for swimming pools across the State of Kentucky. The new filtration system was added and the Pool joined other pools in the county that were then deemed to be safe for public use.

The Pine Mountain Pool’s original concrete structure was fed by water from the cool Limestone Creek that runs from the School’s Reservoir. The water was of excellent quality and was exceptionally cold in temperature. It was ironic that the “filtering” of the pool water with a full filtration system was filtering water that was some of the purest water in the State … as well as the coldest! Limestone Creek supplies the Reservoir and the Pool and is some of the best water in Eastern Kentucky. Recently, the reservoir water that supplies the campus has been declared one of the safest public water supplies in the State.

Along with the construction of the Bath House in 1979, the pool was coated with an aqua paint-sealer in its interior and a small triangular wading pool was added next to the larger pool.

During the Boarding School years, the pool was also a location for rituals associated with celebration. For example, it served as a favorite “dunking” place for new grooms just after they were married. While the bride looked on, the groom would be carried to the Pool and ceremonially tossed into the water — regardless of temperature.

Swimming Pool and Bath House.

Swimming Pool. Paul Hayes is thrown into the pool on his wedding day. [burkh_012.jpg]

It also led to gold medals in the Senior Olympics for one boarding school student (Lela Christian) who won national recognition for her high diving skills while in her late 70s.

The pool allowed many students to become swimmers and provided them with skills that would otherwise have been unattainable. Few local creeks had deep and clean holes of water that could provide safe opportunities for learning how to swim.


The three-door Bath House (Change House), constructed of local stone, was added to the pool area in 1979. It is a one-story rectangular structure with a gabled roof.


It was with considerable reluctance that the School closed the pool in the 1990s after some seven decades of use. The cost of upkeep, new state regulations, and insurance costs became too great for the limited budget of the School.

For the better part of the 1990s and 2000s, the pool sat empty. Many suggestions were made regarding the pool’s resurrection, including as a holding pond for School water, fire suppression, and other future needs for agricultural water reserves. However, it slowly became an eyesore in the bucolic landscape of the School. Weeds and rushes established themselves in the empty pool that was surrounded by a chain link fence. Attempts to integrate the pool into the Environmental Education programs were partially successful, as students explored the marsh environment, but the pool never overcame its image of neglect.

Several ideas for restitution were offered but most were at considerable cost to the institution and were never realized. Finally, in the summer of 2013, the pool was filled with dirt gleaned from a nearby road slide and the filled area was graded to a gentle slope. Discussions of the construction of a possible community pavilion or an open recreation building and meeting structure were explored but were never addressed.

The “burial” of the pool was without ceremony or fanfare, but it will long remain in the memory of any who jumped into its cool and refreshing waters; who struggled with their first attempts to swim; who learned to hold their breath underwater; or, who sprung fearlessly from the diving boards. Most of all, the laughter and squeals of delight of children echoing off the mountains are now missed by those who remember the pool in the heat of summer.

See Also:
SWIMMING POOL Site, Dimensions and Photographs


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See Also:
SWIMMING POOL Site, Dimensions and Photographs


Swimming Pool & Bath House

Alt. Title

Pool ; Change House ;




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Ann Angel Eberhardt ; Helen Hayes Wykle ;

Subject Keyword

Swimming Pool ; Bath House ; Change House ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; remodeling ; State Department of Health ; filtration systems ; concrete surrounds ; Limestone Creek water ; reservoir ; local stone ; aqua paint ; wading pools ; community ; recreation ; money contributions ; local creeks ; learning to swim ; rituals ; celebration ; dunkings ; gold medals ; Senior Olympics ; students ; Lela Christian ; diving skills ; state regulations ; insurance costs ; Environmental Education ; community pavilion ; diving boards ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;

Subject LCSH

Swimming Pool & Bath House — Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Architecture — Pine Mountain Settlement School.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Historic Buildings — Kentucky — Appalachia.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of JPG images, documents, and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet


Series 10: Built Environment (Physical Plant)




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 10: Built Environment (Physical Plant) ; Kentucky Virtual Library collections <http://www.kyvl.org/> [searchable]
Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives <http://www.berea.edu/library/Special/saarchives.html>
Transylvania College Archives <http://www.transy.edu/libspcoll.html>
Univ. of KY Appalachian Archives <http://libraries.uky.edu/libpage.php?lweb_id=84&llib_id=13>
National Historic Landmarks Database <http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=1756&ResourceType=District>

Coverage Temporal

Swimming Pool 1923 – 2013 ; Bath House 1979 – present ;

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.




Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers about Swimming Pool & Bath House ; clippings, photographs, books about Swimming Pool & Bath House;


Swimming Pool constructed 1923 ; Bath House constructed 1979 ;


Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2013-09-30 hw ; 2014-05-20 aae ; 2022-01-21 hhw



Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY. Archival material.

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