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WPA Swimming Pools

WPA Swimming Pools, Golf Courses, The WPA Circus and Other Fun Things

Swimming Pools Built by the WPA:

Even though swimming pools are not traditionally considered an art form, one of the accomplishments of the WPA was the construction of many swimming pools in the USA. Some of these pools are, indeed, examples of architecture as art. While there doesn’t seem to be a complete list of these WPA swimming pools, a partial list includes:

Carbon Hill, AL

Ceres High School, Ceres, CA –

Wallace, ID -

Chester, IL -

Mystic Waters Family Aquatic Center, Rand Park, Des Plaines, IL –

Roosevelt Park, Glenview, IL

Municipal swimming pool, Mt. Carmel, IL –

Pocahontas, IA

Spencer, IA -

Fowler City Park, Fowler, KS –

Herington, KS -

Holton, KS

Swope Park, Kansas City, KS –

Forsythe Park, Monroe, LA –

Metaire, LA

New Orleans Lafitte Playground

Buffalo River, MN

Old Mill State Park, Thief River Falls, Minnesota –

Maplewood, MO –

Delta State University, Cleveland, MS –

Pullen Park, Raleigh, NC -

Sunset Park, New York, New York –

Bellaire, OH -

Columbus Grove Park, Columbus, OH –

East Palatine, OH –

Sayre Park (rock swimming pool), Sayre, OK –

Tonkawa, OK

St. Helens, OR
The town of St. Helens, OR has a functioning swimming pool that was built in 1939 by the WPA. This pool has a tunnel that surrounds the pool so the pipes are accessible. There is a large pool with an adjoining smaller pool.

Deep Eddy Swimming Pool, Austin, TX –


Golf Courses Built by the WPA:

Many of the golf courses built during this period were constructed by the CCC, but these were specifically built by the WPA. At this time, Rand Jerris of United States Golf Association is working on a research project to identify any golf courses built by the WPA or the CCC. If you know of any other WPA or CCC golf courses, please email Dr. Jerris at and help add to this list!

There is a great site entitled “WPA and New Deal Golf Courses” which has additional information!

Phillips Park Golf Course, Aurora, IL

Keller Golf Course in St. Paul, MN – The clubhouse and pro shop were constructed with stone and mortar as W.P.A. projects.

Public Golf Course in Forsyth, Georgia – built in 1935

New Golf Course, New Orleans, LA. – constructed by WPA as part of the vast City Park Improvement program.

Split Rock Golf Course in NYC

Public Golf Course in Naco, AZ – built in 1936

New Bedford Municipal Golf Club

Washoe Country Golf Course in Reno NV – built in 1936

Milham Park Golf Course, Kalamazoo, MI – the second 9 holes were built in 1936 by the WPA

Ohio State University Golf Course - built in 1935

College Park Municipal Course opens in College Park

George Wright Golf Course in Hyde Park, MA – Designed by the famed Donald Ross as a WPA project in the 1930s, George Wright was built on a site unfit for a golf course.

Pueblo City Park Golf Course - Pueblo, CO



The WPA Circus

For about five years the federal government of the United States was in the circus business. Part of the New Deal programs included the WPA Circus, which was part of the Federal Theatre Project. The WPA was the only instance of a state-sponsored circus in the United States. It provided work for many out of work showfolks such as the great rider Oscar Lowande (by then over the hill and performing on clown alley), old-time strong woman Kate Sandwina and up and comer Burt Lancaster who later, of course, made it big in the movies. It also provided free entertainment to tens of thousands of children. Burns O’Sullivan, a former manager for Andrew Downie and later for Fred Buchanan’s Gorman Bros. Circus, was the managing director. The WPA Circus began in late 1935 and lasted through 1939. The show had an incredible 55 piece band and one elephant, Japino or Jap from Honest Bill Newton. She once escaped, and was rounded up by the police who mistakenly (although understandably) returned her to the Ringling-Barnum Circus, then appearing in Madison Square Garden. This was the only case in American field show history where an escaped elephant was returned to the wrong party. The show was out 21 weeks starting in late May, playing all around New York City and Long Island. 225,000 people saw the show during the under-canvas tour. From “WPA Circus,” Federal Theatre Project, (1937)



Other Fun Things Built by the WPA:

Fish Hatchery in Rochester, IN near Akron, IN. Located in Lakeview Park on north side of east Ninth street (formerly Mill Race Park) the Federal fish hatchery was built in 1935 by the WPA: it now includes a municipal golf course, and a swimming pool.

Senecaville Fish Hatchery, Senecaville, Ohio – built in 1937 by the WPA.

Feather River Bath House in Oroville, CA – In the mid 1930′s the WPA built the rock bath house. The bath house provided showers and restroom facilities for the swimmers and sunbathers.

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA was partially built by the WPA including “a totem pole designed by Frank Vincenzi and carved by WPA labor was set up in the southwest part of the zoo not far from the 55th St./Phinney Ave. entrance. The Vincenzi pole was removed at an unknown date and also never replaced.”