The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Women's Swimming Pool

The dedication of the Women's Swimming Pool Unit on April 17, 1954, marked the completion of one important project in the over-all plan for a new and modern women's athletic building, which is planned to meet the needs and interests of students in a present-day program of physical education.

As early as 1923 recommendations for a women's pool had appeared in the annual reports of Dr. Margaret Bell, chairman of the Program of Physical Education for Women, and in 1928-29 provisional plans for a swimming pool were submitted to the Board in Control of Atheltics. In 1937, upon receiving the approval of the Board of Regents, the Women's Athletic Association sponsored a drive for funds. Many student organizations and alumnae groups contributed to the project. By 1940 about $10,000 had been accumulated in gifts or pledges. By the time construction of the Pool began approximately $28,000 had been donated to the Women's Athletic Association fund.

In November, 1949, the Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics advised the Regents that they were prepared to begin construction of the pool "at an estimated cost of $775,000" provided the University would furnish the necessary site and maintenance (R.P., 1948-51, p. 574).

The site chosen was the west part of the block facing Forest Avenue between Geddes and North University avenues. This area, except for three University-owned houses, was occupied by private dwellings. Authorization was given for appraisal of those properties not owned by the University, and within a year the site had been secured. Eight houses were removed before construction could begin. In September, 1950, the Regents approved a contract with Alden B. Dow, of Midland, Michigan, and Kenneth C. and Lee Black, of Lansing, Associated Architects.

In February, 1951, Dr. Bell was appointed chairman of the Planning Committee for the Women's Gymnasium and Swimming Pool. H. O. Crisler, Fritzie Gareis, Marie D. Hartwig, Matthew Mann, and Elmer D. Mitchell were the other members of the committe, which was to work with Lynn Fry and Oscar Cartwright of the staff of the College of Architecture and Design of the University.

The preliminary plans for the Swimming Pool Unit were accepted by the Regents in October, 1951. The Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics informed the Board of Regents that it could furnish $853,000. In April the Regents granted the architects permission to complete, within the $1,116,000 budget, final plans and specifications, providing a total seating capacity of approximately 800. As soon as construction was authorized the Board in Control passed the following resolution:

Whereas, It appears that after application of approximately $30,000.00 now in the "pool fund" of the Women's Athletic Association, after making certain changes in the plans to reduce costs, and after giving effect to certain other adjustments outlined by the Director, the total cost to the Board Page  1588under the Jeffress-Dyer, Inc., proposal will amount to approximately $1,006,000.00; and

Whereas, … the Board finds itself in a position to commit approximately $1,000,000.00 of its funds to the construction of the swimming pool unit:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved that:

(1) The Board approves the proposal submitted by Jeffress-Dyer, Inc., and recommends its acceptance;

(2) The Director is authorized and directed to inform the Board of Regents and the Officers of the University that this Board will make available, as needed, approximately $1,000,000.00 for the construction of the swimming pool unit; and …

(4) The Director is authorized and directed to continue consultation and negotiation with the contractor and the architects with a view to accomplishing further reductions in cost not involving changes in the size of the building


(R.P., October, 1952, p. 621).

Ground breaking exercises were held on October 25, 1952. Among those present were President Harlan Hatcher, Dr. Margaret Bell, Regent Vera Burridge Baits, H. O. Crisler, Mrs. Lola Jeffries Hanavan ('12), of Detroit, chairman of the Alumnae Building Committee, Professor Laurie Campbell, and Miss Nancy Fitch ('53), a past president of the Women's Athletic Association. In April, 1954, dedication ceremonies, highlighting the completion of the building took place. President Harlan Hatcher presided; Mrs. Vera B. Baits represented the Regents and the administration. Others included H. O. Crisler, representing the Board in Control of Intercollegiate Athletics; Mrs. James A. Lafler, representing the alumni; Mrs. Lola Jeffries Hanavan; Dr. Margaret Bell; Deborah Bacon, Dean of Women; Susan Riggs, retiring president of the Women's League, and Marion Swanson, president of the Women's Athletic Association. In presenting a portrait of Dr. Bell to the University on behalf of the students and alumnae Mrs. Hanavan said:

These ceremonies today climax years of patient effort and fond hopes. It is said that into every accomplishment goes the record of some great personality, someone who has selflessly devoted himself to that undertaking. … Into this building has gone the personality of a great woman, a great teacher, and a great physician.

A water show by the women's swimming group followed the official ceremony. In all, four performances were given during the two-day event, with approximately 3,000 persons in attendance.

The new building is modern in design, of red brick construction. Inside are two spacious lobbies, with cream and green mosaic rubber tile floors, attractive furnishings and plants. Two locker rooms, with facilities for 724 persons, are furnished with hair dryers, full length mirrors, and private dressing booths. A conference room and a check room are also available. In the instructors' office is an FM radio and phonograph and underwater speakers and microphones connected with a public address system which can be switched to all parts of the building.

The pool room includes a grandstand area with seating for more than 700 persons, a six-lane pool basin, 75 by 44 feet, surrounded by a wide tile runway, high and low diving boards, outlets for television cameras and sound apparatus, and a window through which underwater swimmers may be observed.

The building was opened on March 10, 1954, for the first formal swim. Built at a cost of $1,070,000, it is serving the growing needs of the Women's Physical Education Department and other University and community groups. It is used not only for scheduled classes but for corecreational swimming by students and University staff members. Elementary and intermediate swimming classes are offered as well as diving, synchronized Page  1589swimming, life saving, water safety instruction, and competitive swimming.