The summer’s relentless rain may have affected the number of people heading for Legion Pool. But it didn’t influence the number of people joining the Friends of Legion Pool, an advocacy group dedicated to preserving the historic recreational resource.
“People are joining every week,” said Sara Baker, one of the group’s organizers. “They want to help preserve the pool for future generations to enjoy.”
Last summer, Legion Pool was at the center of a community firestorm created when people learned about UGA’s plans to demolish the pool. And then to build a replacement pool at Lake Herrick, complete with a bubble seat.
Former UGA president Michael Adams said repeatedly he had no idea such a proposal would generate so much pushback. Rather than order the pool be demolished, he said he would leave that decision to his successor.
So now, the Friends of Legion Pool have written to UGA President Jere Morehead, inviting him to visit the pool. People want to work with the new administration, Baker said, in order to maximize the pool’s potential and make the best use of it.
Here’s what the letter to President Morehead says:
Dear President Morehead:
Friends of Legion Pool would like to invite you to visit Legion Pool before the 2013season is over August 7. We would like to share with you the community that is Legion Pool, as well as renew your acquaintance with this beautiful and important historical structure.
Touted as the largest and most beautiful swimming pool south of Richmond, Va., the Legion Pool and associated facilities were designed by architect C. Wilmer Heery of Atlanta and was completed in 1936,* a result of a ten year funding drive by the Allen R. Fleming American Legion post No. 20. The pool was finished with the help of WPA dollars, private donations and the city of Athens. The field at Legion Park hosted Georgia Bulldog football games as well as American Legion fairs and festivals, where UGA students could enjoy free rides and shows on “University Day.” (R.E.M. in the fall of 1983 opened with “Radio Free Europe”!)**
The historic memory in this community today of Legion includes a man who helped tile the pool, a lifeguard who was present during its integration, and legions of children who have learned to swim there. When the University of Georgia offered to purchase the pool and the surrounding acreage from the American Legion in 1952, Judge Henry West of the Clarke County Superior Court reviewed the offer and noted that Legion was “one of the largest outdoor pools in the South,” and that it was in “more or less the nature of a trust,” built to serve the citizens of Athens. For seventy-seven years, that trust has been kept.
Friends of Legion Pool would be happy to meet with you at your convenience and discuss with you ways in which we can be of help to your administration in maximizing the pool’s potential. We feel sure that together we can find a way to continue this happy meeting place for town and gown.
Friends of Legion Pool