Friday, September 19, 2014

The story of the Cascade Pool in Downtown Kerrville

Cascade Pool, downtown Kerrville, probably mid-1950s, I'm guessing
Click on image to enlarge
I bet a lot of readers don't know that there once was a pool right in the center of town, the Cascade Pool.  The pool was run by the city of Kerrville.  This pool was behind Schreiner Bank, nestled on the high bluff of the river between the back of the Arcadia Theater and the Earl Garrett side of the Blue Bonnet Hotel.   Of these landmarks, only the Arcadia Theater remains.  For you newcomers, the Blue Bonnet Hotel was an eight story hotel that towered at the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets, across from where Francisco's restaurant is today.  Earl Garrett in those days went all the way to the river bluff, about where the stairway down to the dam is today.  Schreiner Bank, the bank that preceded NationsBank, was located facing Water Street, at the corner of Water and Earl Garrett streets, across Water from Schreiner's department store.   Schreiner Bank was in a small building that didn't extend all the way from the street back to the river bluff.  Next door to Schreiner Bank was a long row of buildings, all now demolished, that housed a variety of businesses, including the offices Mrs. Salter and her Kerrville Mountain Sun.  This row of businesses and the bank was between the Arcadia Theater and the corner, with the bank on the corner, on the river side of Water Street.
When I was a boy, the Cascade Pool was already gone -- a victim, it is rumored, of fears of racial integration, a still painful blight on our community's past.  In its place was a rather sunken parking lot for the bank's employees and the tenants of the string of offices.  I vaguely remember Schreiner Bank having its drive-through windows back there, also.
The pool itself was a beautiful thing, with a fountain in its center, a fountain like you'd find in the courtyard of some Moroccan dwelling.
Everitt M. Mahon, formerly of Kerrville, but now living in San Antonio, shared these memories of the Cascade Pool with us:
"Me and sister (Ann Mahon) had summer passes to the Cascade, along with Billy Eldridge.
"Mr. Hirth was the 'man-in-charge' of the pool.  As soon as it was full in the Spring, I was there, although the water was cold.  Mike Michon and I would help Mr. Hirth skim, clean, etc.  I used to go when it opened, go home for lunch, and come back when it was dark; all summer.
"Next to the pool was the Chamber of Commerce building (3 floors).  The bottom floor was mechanical equipment for the pool, the top other two floors were their offices.  Mike and I would climb up a drain pipe in the alley behind Schreiner's Bank to the top of the Chamber building (3 floors) and jump into the pool across their sidewalk, and once I nearly didn't make it -- I slipped on the tile cornice atop the building.  My feet were wet.  Now at 66, I wonder why I am still here . . . ."
A newspaper from 1936, loaned to me by George Morris, has as a front page story the opening of the pool, informing readers that "A charge of 25 cents for individual adult tickets, 15 cents for children and $7.50 for season tickets will be in effect."  The story noted that "accredited lifeguards will be on duty while the pool is open to the public."
"Built of concrete at a cost of about $25,000 several years ago," the story continues, "Cascade Pool is centrally located across the street from the Blue Bonnet Hotel.  The water purification system send 250 gallons of purified water a minute into the pool Daily laboratory tests keep the water up to the best standards of drinking water."
Or, as an advertisement featuring a tastefully drawn bathing beauty in the same paper promises, "It comes in Pure -- it goes out Pure!"
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  1. Fascinating, Joe! Looks like a lovely place.

  2. I don't remember that C of C building. Joe, do you have a photo of the building? I'm certain that I will remember it, if I see a photo of it.

    I remember there being one day a week that "coloreds only" could swim in the pool. The rest of the week was reserved for "whites only." I agree, those days were sinful. It doesn't seem possible that such times actually existed.


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