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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.

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

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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