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Green Street Pool made a big splash

Residents share memories from 80 years of summer fun

POSTED: June 22, 2013 12:37 a.m.

After nearly 80 years of service, the Historic Green Street Pool is finally being laid to rest.

Demolition of the pool began Tuesday as part of Gainesville Parks and Recreation’s plan to renovate several public spaces. The pool has been closed since 2008 when the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center opened.

The pool was opened July 4, 1931, according to park records. Since then, legions of Gainesville youth have played and learned how to swim in its waters.

Now the pool will be filled and converted into green space with more renovations planned for the future, said Michael Graham, deputy parks director.

“Later on, we’re hoping to renovate the pool house and restrooms as well as add pavilions, grills and a walkway down to Bobby Gruhn Field,” Graham said.

Some local residents are excited the space will finally be used again, but the changes are bittersweet as they reminisce of summers gone by.

Kay Scoville spent her childhood at the pool.

“In the ’40s and early ’50s there was no Lake Lanier and very few backyard pools,” she said. “The Green Street Pool was the only place to enjoy the water. At age 10, I began riding the bus from Chicopee, walking to the pool, playing, swimming all afternoon only to walk back to town and catch the bus home.”

In the 1940s, Bill Lipscomb swam there after his job delivering papers.

“I would finish working and take off to the pool. I wasn’t very good at swimming but the lifeguards would take me aside and give me pointers,” he said. “I met a lot of people there.”

Lipscomb’s daughter, Anne Davenport, later swam there as a teenager in the 1970s.

“My friend lived down the street. I would spend the night at her house and swim all day long,” she said. “I’m really sad to see it go.”

Heather Chandler belonged to the swim team in the 1980s.

“I would walk to swim practice and hang out all afternoon, all summer long,” she said. “I was so happy when I was old enough to jump off the high diving board, but I never had the courage to do flips or anything though.”

The pool was also one of the first places in North Georgia to offer swim lessons by instructors qualified through the Red Cross.

Jane Hulsey taught swimming to hundreds of Gainesville children starting in the early 1950s.

“I realized there was a dire need for swimming instructors and I just happened to be qualified,” Hulsey said. “I started teaching kids how to swim on my own at the Green Street pool.”

“Demand became so overwhelming that I went through the Red Cross and soon there were several qualified instructors there,” she said. “We worked like the devil.

“People still come up to me and tell me that I taught their mother or grandmother how to swim. It breaks my heart to see the pool go but it’s a needed evolution. I am just honored to have been able to work there.”

The Green Street pool was heavily renovated in the 1980s but much of it required further repairs and upgrades when the Meadows Center opened on Aug. 30, 2008. The new center boasts two indoor pools and an outdoor pool with water slides, water fountains and a “Splash Zone.”

“At the time the decision was made to close Green Street Pool, it would have been necessary to replace the entire operating and filtration system of the pool because the parts were so outdated that they weren’t manufactured anymore, as well as the entire deck. Professional estimates were up to $1.5 million,” said Julie Butler Colombini, marketing and communications director for Gainesville Parks and Recreation.

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