Wesley Bintz Swimming Pools

17 Jun

Moores Park Swimming Pool (1923) in Lansing, Michigan

Hi there! I’m so glad you’ve found your way to my blog about Wesley Bintz and his swimming pools. The research here was done mostly on my own time (or as part of a grad school project), and is a few years old, so please understand that information here might be out of date, especially regarding existing and in-use swimming pools. ALSO, if you are looking for information to include in an article or essay, PLEASE cite me as a source. (Tegan D’Arcangelis Baiocchi or Tegan Baiocchi – you can call me an architectural historian, historian, or historic preservationist). I have spent a lot of my free time compiling this research, and as a young history professional who happened to find a niche, it’s nice to get my name out there. Also, there aren’t a lot of other sources for this information – that’s why you find yourself at a 5+ year old WordPress blog. :)

Also, as I mentioned above, this blog and all of its contents are my own work and not affiliated with any employer, past or present. BUT if you do happen to need some cultural resources services, I might be able to point you in the right direction. :)

Also, after reading this post, be sure to check out my follow up blog here. 


Who was Wesley Bintz?
Wesley Bintz attended the University of Michigan for both his bachelors and masters degrees in engineering (1916 and 1918). Bintz worked for two and a half years in Flint’s city engineer’s department, then went to Lansing as a structural engineer. He soon was named city engineer. Bintz left the position in 1923 to specialize in the engineering of swimming pools.

What did Wesley Bintz Build?
Athletic Park - Municipal Swimming Pool, Anderson Indiana 2
The swimming pools that Wesley Bintz designed and built are unique (and patented) in that the pool is above the ground and, in most cases, the changing areas are underneath. While typical Bintz pools were ovoid in shape, some of his above-ground pools were rectangular. They also ranged in size from 25′ x 40′ (Batchelder Hotel, Old Orchard Beach, Maine) to 130′ x 240′ (Cleveland, Ohio). He patented his “Bintz Pool” design in 1926.

Wesley Bintz claimed that “A Bintz Pool is 25% to 40% cheaper to build than a sunken pool and bath house of equal size, permanence, and details.” The reason for this can be found in the fact that Bintz Pools required little excavation, since the pool was above ground. A Bintz Pool also required less land space, since the bath house and swimming area basically occupied the same area of land.

Where are They Now?
johnson city ny come on inAccording to a newspaper article, Wesley Bintz and his associates had designed 135 swimming pools. With a little help from Bintz enthusiasts in Oklahoma, I’ve tracked down 63 Bintz pools, or locations where Bintz pools were constructed. Seven of these are traditional sunken pools, but the rest are above-ground “bintz” designs.

Fun Facts about Bintz Swimming Pools
A large percentage of Bintz pools were constructed near rivers, streams, or creeks. According to a former pool manager, this may have been in order to fill or empty the pool with ease by pumping the water to and from the water source. Unfortunately, it also led to the destruction by floods of at least two pools (Wellsville & Elmira, NY) and has damaged the closed pool in Anadarko, OK.

kearsley park pavillion2The first two pools Bintz designed in Flint, Michigan have been demolished, but the bath house of one in Kearsley Park still stands and is used for park events. When the pool was demolished in the 1980s, the city decided to keep the bath house and use it as a pavilion.

The oldest surviving Wesley Bintz swimming pool is in his home town of Lansing, Michigan. Built in 1923 in Moores Park, the pool is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has undergone rehabilitation and safety additions in its 86-year lifetime.

At one time, Beaumont, Texas boasted three Wesley Bintz Swimming Pools – built in 1926, 1927, and 1938. The last Bintz pool in Beaumont, the Alice Keith Park Swimming Pool, was demolished in 2002.

Today, Boise Idaho has two Bintz Pools that are still open to the public. These pools are identical and were probably built at the same time.

More Information
If you would like more information about Wesley Bintz and his swimming pools….
If you would like an architectural analysis of a Bintz pool…
If you would like your community’s Bintz swimming pool historically designated…
contact me at tegan.baiocchi@hotmail.com

What Else?
I’m planning a road trip to Weirton, West Virginia to see about the pool there. More information to come!

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30 Responses to “Wesley Bintz Swimming Pools”

  1. Robin Dunaway July 18, 2009 at 12:51 am #

    Bravo! Now the world will know about these awesome pools. Well done!!

  2. Richard Dunaway January 24, 2010 at 1:42 am #

    Teagan;
    The facebook group, Friends of Cushing Memorial Pool, now have 310 members. The picture collection has grown to 22 photos. Check it out. Robin and I hope the New Year is going well for you. Best wishes.

  3. Steve May 7, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    The Bintz pool in elmira is still standing, and was used up until 2005. The Bintz pool was built to replace the pool that was destroyed by the flood. They are trying to figure out a way to save it.

  4. Ed Cleary May 7, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    Teagan – Here are some interior pics of the highly endangered Brand Park Pool in Elmira NY. No one knows what to do with this place, which I visited regularly as a kid. The first link is to a forum discussion with pics, the second has a postcard of the original pool, the third to an article on present activity proposed for the pool. It should be noted that this is the second pool on the site – the first Bintz pool was destroyed by a 1946 flood. This was either a rebuild or a new one. The the flood of ’72 took it out, but it was cleaned up and reopened. Lots of memories in this place.

    http://www.ielmira.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=842&hilit=pool+brand

    http://www.ielmira.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=1313&hilit=pool+brand

    http://www.ielmira.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9378&hilit=pool+brand

    • tegannouveau May 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

      Ed, Thank you so much for the links to the photos of the pool, although they are very sad to look at. I know that there is a very similar, actually fairly identical pool in Dixon, Illinois that is also very endangered. I also haven’t heard anything recently about this pool, either. There is also a similar pool in Tonawanda (I think?) New York that was supposedly restored or at least renovated. A fourth pool with the same later Bintz style used to stand in Cushing, Oklahoma. It was replaced with a brand new modern pool, but they kept the two story pool decks and used them to add a water slide.

  5. KD Sadell May 20, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    There is still a Bintz pool open for use in Fayette, Mo. Built in ’36 I believe. It has undergone a lot of renovations but still manages to open most ever year.

    • tegannouveau May 20, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

      Hi KD. I love the pool in Fayette, Missouri. Not that I have been there, but the community really seems to know what they have in a pool. It is on the National Register and I’ve seen their brochures marketing and soliciting funds and awareness for its restoration. I think the Bintz Pool in the Ybor Neighborhood of Tampa, Florida is very similar to the Fayette pool, but they were the ones that spent… gosh… $3.5 million on restoring it, adding an elevator for handicapp accessibility, and all these other things. Thank you for your comment!

  6. Marsha Hindman August 11, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    We have one of these pools in New Martinsville, W. Va. that was closed for swimming this 2010 season due to needed repairs. Do you have any idea of the cost to repair these types of pools. Our has never undergone any major renovations. Thank you for any information on where to find out more information on this. There are many people in our community who would like to repair the pool so that it could be reopened..

  7. Peggy Kownack July 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    There’s one here in Troy NY that many have tried for 15 years to find new use for. It is indeed suffering today of demolition by neglect. Mind you it is not the citizens who have neglected this grand structure but our city government.

    • tegannouveau July 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

      Yes, I’ve seen photos of the Prospect Park swimming pool in Troy. It is such a shame that it is falling apart. I spoke to a few people who have said they have tried to find federal and state grant funding or local funds to finance a rehab effort, but to no avail. I’ve heard that money has gone to “sexier” projects perhaps in areas that are a little more affluent?

      • Peggy Kownack July 6, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

        I’m writing a piece for our local paper regarding it. Part of the issue is that our city leaders aren’t all that interested. Like you said, “sexier” projects like our riverfront.

  8. Terry cannon August 24, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    There is also one of these pools in Chaffee , Missouri , still in use

  9. Bill von Kessel August 25, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    There is a Bintz pool in Chaffee, MO. Spent many years in that pool as a young boy, including my years as a life guard in the late ’70′s and early 80′s. For more information including articles of it’s opening and many pictures see the Facebook page called “Growing up in Chaffee, MO.

  10. Janette Lawson September 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    There was a pool in Pana, IL but it has been destroyed and a new pool built to replace it. This was my childhood in many ways. I would love to drive to another one to take pictures.

    • tegannouveau September 5, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

      Janette, there are some existing pools within driving distance. There is one pool in Dixon, Illinois that is in Vaile Park, but it is closed and I think slated for demolition. There is a closed pool in Pontiac, Illinois but that was sitting in a park deteriorating, and I think the city was going to demolish it. If it is still there, it is only because it was too costly to demo. There is a pool in Anderson, Indiana at Athletic Park that, last I knew was still open, but they may have closed it. There is an open pool in Lansing, Michigan at Moores Park. It is the oldest existing Bintz Pool. There is a sort of existing pool outside of Lima, Ohio, but you wouldn’t know it was a pool unless someone pointed it out, because it is covered in metal siding. There are a few more still standing in New York, and other places around the country, too. But for some reason, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio was a hot bed of Bintz pools!

      • Erik October 16, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

        We believe that here in North Attleboro, Mass. we have a Bintz pool as well. Our pool is open every summer even with the budget getting smaller and smaller. With a dedicated group of locals we have formed a group called the Make A Splash Foundation, that raises the shortfall monies needed each year. You can search facebook for our page “world war II memorial pool”. Although I’ve not been able to obtain actual documents from townspeople, our design is similar to Bintz pools. We are in the process of trying to get on the national registry as well.

  11. Darren Burris December 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    I took my first two years of swimming lessons in a Bintz pool in Pana, IL. before they tore it down in the early seventies. (I have some good pictures of it)

  12. K.P. April 26, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    The pool in Anderson Indiana has been closed for several years now, but there has been a recent community effort to re-open the complex!

    • tegannouveau June 10, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      That would be great! I actually stopped by that pool in March and took photos. It’s in a great spot, but definitely built when the road was more pedestrian friendly in the 1920s. If only the front of the pool was facing that big empty space behind it, they could landscape that to make a great park/fairground area.

  13. Douglas Jackson, 3951 palisades Drive, Weirton, WV 26062 July 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    My name is Douglas Jackson and I live in Weirton, WV. I am the leader of the movement to save our Bintz pool from demolition. Can anyone help me with some historical data?

    • tegannouveau July 27, 2012 at 2:14 am #

      Hi Doug, I’ve also sent you an email, but I just wanted to mention on here that the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Swimming Pool is on the National Register of Historic Places, as is the entire Marland Heights Park, and its nomination form can be found online here: http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/hancock/93001230.pdf Please let me know what the status of this pool is. It would be a shame to lose one that is already designated as a historic place, and looked to be in such decent condition, at least when I visited two years ago.

    • JoAnn Locascio Green August 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

      Doug please read your Facebook mail. I just sent you a response hoping you can attend the meeting concerning our pool this Saturday, August 4th at 10:00 am at Lickety Splits.

  14. randy clark February 12, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    There is an above ground pool in tampa called the roy jenkins (not hte one in ybor city) was this a wesley bintz pool? id not, does anyone know who the architect for it was?

    • tegannouveau February 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

      I’m not sure if he was the architect, but the pool was part of the large David P. Davis development on the island and I believe was not completed until after his death. I’m not too familiar with the history of Davis and Davis Islands, but a good person to ask would be Rodney Kite-Powell at the Tampa Bay History Center.

  15. Lynne February 21, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    The photo of the pool with the sign “Come on in, the water’s fine” is from the CFJ Park swimming pool in Johnson City, New York. The pool was almost round. There was a second Bintz pool–oval–at the First Ward Park in Binghamton, New York. Construction of both pools was funded by the Johnson Family, of the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company at two of the many parks they built for their workers in the Binghamton-Johnson City-Endicott area. They also built carousels at 6 of those parks. Because of a bequeath in their will stating the carousels had to be maintained and open free of charge, the 6 carousels are still open and operating today. Sadly, both Bintz pools were demolished.

    • tegannouveau February 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

      Hi Lynne, you are right. The Johnson City pool is actually well documented on the Library of Congress’s HABS/HAER website, which is where the photo is from. Last I knew, the First Ward Swimming Pool in Binghamton was closed, but still standing. Did they finally go through with the demolition?

      Thanks for reading and for your comments!

  16. Bonnie Rexroat April 15, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

    There is one in Pontiac Illinois. It closed in 2001, but it is still standing!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Wesley Bintz Redux « Dixie Bound - August 17, 2012

    [...] that has attracted more visitors than all of the other posts combined, and that is my post about Wesley Bintz and his swimming pools. I assume that many of those who visit are city officials, park board members, history buffs, and [...]

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