June 29, 2014

The original Gage Park pool

This postcard is from 1944. The pool shown is at Topeka's Gage Park and it's long gone now, though there's an aquatic center elsewhere in the park.

The pool shown below was huge. I know this for two reasons: my father swam there as a child and he told me, and when the pool was paved over it became what is today the Topeka Zoo's large parking lot.

There was a fountain in this pool and it was very deep just a few feet from the edges. Unfortunately, my father saw a little boy drown here when he (Dad) was about seven. I imagine there were other drownings as well.

In the background you see the bathhouse. That building, though renovated, still stands and now functions as the Helen Hocker Theater.
 photo GageParkPool1944.jpg

This is the zoo's parking lot today. The bathhouse is out of view on the far right side of the picture. You can sort of see, relative to the size of the cars, how big this parking lot is. I can hardly imagine this whole area being a swimming pool, even though I have a picture.
 photo GageParkParkingLot.jpg

This is the farthest south of the zoo parking lot and you see the bathhouse here.
 photo GageParkParkingLotSouth.jpg

The front of the old bathhouse has been made over, of course, for the theater. But they did preserve the basic structure of the bathhouse.
 photo HelenHockerTheater.jpg

Here's an old home movie from YouTube!