Wesley Bintz Redux

17 Aug

Moores Park Swimming Pool (1923) in Lansing, Michigan

Since this blog began over three years ago, its purpose and content has changed a few times. First, it was primarily history and preservation focused, then it became a “Things to See and Do” kind of blog, and now it is sort of a combination of those things. And I don’t have many followers. Or any followers. Or whatever. Anyway, throughout my entire blog-writing experience, there has been one post 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 the occasional friend of mine who reads a vague reference to Bintz on my Facebook or Twitter page, and then googles it to see what it’s all about (hi there!). Regardless of why you are here, I’m happy to have you!

Donnelly Pavilion, Kearsley Park, Flint, Michigan

I was introduced to Wesley Bintz as a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University. I was doing an assignment that required me to put together a Historic Structure Report, and I chose the Donnelly Pavilion at Kearsley Park, in Flint, Michigan. While doing research at the parks office, Kearsley Park director Kay Kelly introduced me to Wesley Bintz and his work. The pavilion, you see, served as the bathhouse of a 1919 swimming pool – Wesley Bintz’s first swimming pool, actually. The pool was demolished in the 1980s, but the massive concrete block bathhouse was too expensive to remove, so it was (thankfully) spared. At that point, I took Kay’s interest and research on Bintz, and ran with it. Finding and learning about Bintz pools, both demolished and extant, sort of became a hobby of mine, and over time I’ve developed a nice little list of pools, photographs, etc., that I’m quite proud of.

Right now, interest in Bintz Pools seems to be at an all-time high. Maybe it just seems that way because before I started writing about them, there weren’t really any resources online for Bintz as a whole – only individual swimming pools (Cuscaden, Johnson City, Camp-Humiston, and Moores Park seem to be the big ones that pop up on web pages and in newspaper articles). Because of this, I do play some cards close to the chest – I’ve spent a lot of free time gathering the research I have, with an emphasis on the word “free.” In the past, I’ve had one or two consultants who were being actually paid to research Bintz ask me to give them my research without compensation and, well, I just can’t. But if you are a community looking for ways to save your Bintz Pool from demolition, or interested in the general history or design of the pools, then I will help you in any way that I can and give you any information that is necessary for you to succeed in your goals.

If you are on Facebook, there is a newly created group called the Wesley Bintz Swimming Pool Network that is trying to bring communities with and advocates for Bintz Pools together. It is in its infancy, but I’m hoping that it will become a way for communities with Bintz Pools to find extra support from other communities with pools, or that used to have Bintz pools, etc.

Me and the Marland Heights Swimming Pool (1934) in Weirton, West Virginia, 2009

Speaking of which, please sign this petition to save the Marland Heights Swimming Pool (Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Swimming Pool) in Weirton, West Virginia. Built in 1934, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is in excellent condition. However, it has been closed to swimming for about 8 years, and the parks board wants to demolish it.

** Please also keep in mind that any advice, opinions, etc. stated here or elsewhere on this blog are my own and not affiliated with any entity, corporation, organization, etc. Also, because I am currently employed by a consulting firm, there are certain services that they offer, like NRHP nominations, historic resource surveys, oral presentations, etc., that I cannot/will not offer independently (I believe this includes volunteering, too, but I’m not entirely sure yet). If you are interested in hiring a consultant for any of those services, please let me know, and I can submit a proposal and budget through my employer.

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