The Texas Pool Added to National Register of Historic Places

The Texas Pool shortly after opening in 1961 // courtesy The Texas Pool

With beehive hairdos, cat-eye sunglasses and no idea that the Beach Boys were about to splash onto the national scene, Plano residents hit the waves in 1961 at The Texas Pool. Chubby Checker’s “Twist” topped the charts and folks across America were enthralled with John F. Kennedy’s idea of the New Frontier. With rapid expansion just on the horizon, Plano was a simpler place, and longtime residents fondly recall memories of The Texas Pool.

Jack Grimm spent summers there as a child, and lifeguarded during high school in the early 1970s. He recalled riding his bicycle from his East Plano home to the pool during elementary school, and running there barefooted after his family moved closer.

“I would babysit a hundred kids a day being a lifeguard, and those were my kids,” he remembers. Every once in a while, he still gets recognized as “Jack the Lifeguard” by the families who used to spend summers there. “Yeah, that whole place became a way of life for us.”

Swimming at the Dallas North Estates pool, now called The Texas Pool, in the early 1960s // courtesy Wes Hansen

First envisioned by Texas oil tycoon Herbert Hunt in 1959, The Texas Pool was initially a private, members-only swim club when the surrounding master-planned community of Dallas North Estates was completed. The pool opened in 1961 and was the summer home of Plano’s best memories until the late 1990s when family memberships dwindled drastically.

In danger of being lost entirely, and in critical need of updates and new-resident marketing, The Dallas North Community Club and The Texas Pool Foundation merged as a single nonprofit organization in 2010 to save the historic Texas Pool. Through grants, community volunteers and service projects, the pool has received many repairs since then.

(left:) The 1961 Miss Plano Pageant was held at the new pool // courtesy The Texas Pool; (at right:) The pool right before completion // Dallas Morning News, May 28, 1961

The pool’s board of directors recently worked with the Plano Conservancy and The Texas Historical Commission to apply for the National Register of Historic Places. Grueling research was required, including hours of interviews; in the end, it was deemed that the first and oldest Texas-shaped pool in the world is located right here in Plano, and The Texas Pool was listed on the National Register as of April 1, 2019.

Last winter, a large grant from the City of Plano’s Heritage Commission allowed The Texas Pool to be completely resurfaced. When the swimming pool’s plaster bottom was removed, an exciting discovery was made. The original city name tiles at the bottom of the pool, thought to have been removed decades ago, were discovered.

The tiles marked Brownsville, Austin, El Paso and more. Jack still remembers all the games that kids used to play swimming from one city to the next, touching them as they went: “I’m going to Corpus, see you guys in a minute.” They often called the game Swim Across Texas.

(left:) the original Austin city tiles uncovered during renovations; (right:) new tiles recreated by Holman Pottery // courtesy The Texas Pool

The board of directors decided to use the remnants of the original tiles as inspiration to bring back the city names at the bottom of the pool. Tony Holman was commissioned to recreate the look of the original seven city tiles at his Plano pottery studio, Holman Pottery. Four additional city tiles were also made, so now when The Texas Pool opens for this summer’s season, folks can once again swim from Austin to Beaumont or Texarkana to El Paso in a matter of minutes.

(left:) Tony Holman with new tiles he created; (right:) Herbert Hunt sees the new tiles // courtesy The Texas Pool

Janet Moos, founder and CEO of The Texas Pool Foundation, says the tile restoration is only a small part of a larger renovation plan. With its community gardening area, butterfly garden, toddler play area and walk-up lending library, The Texas Pool is one of the leading organizations in Plano at fostering a sense of community. There is work still to be done, and many neighbors show up regularly to answer that call for help. Scout projects, local business sponsors and legacy families are among those with multigenerational interest in keeping the pool operational.

Music and fashions may change with the times, but one thing remains the same: Your family can make still memories where Gramma Betty first sported her itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow polka dot bikini. Grab your suit, specs and sunscreen and come #swimacrosstexas.

The Texas Pool in 2016 // photo Jennifer Shertzer

The public is invited to see the renovations at the grand opening May 1 at 11 a.m. or to swim on opening day May 27. Details at the link below.

The Texas Pool >
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