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Mystery of Bellefonte Academy swimming pool unearthed

by on October 04, 2018 2:07 PM

BELLEFONTE — About a month ago, comments started appearing on Facebook regarding the old Bellefonte Academy swimming pool. 

On the social media site, Harry Breon said that workers toiling away on the Rogers Stadium football field had apparently hit a piece of the academy's old filled-in swimming pool. “A friend sent me an aerial view of the area and the practice field and the pool outline can be seen in it,” said Breon.

Many people were incredulous, posting on Facebook that “I never knew about the pool,” or, "I’ve heard of it from my father.”

While chasing the facts behind this mysterious pool, I reviewed the 2008 book "Picturesque Bellefonte, An Era of Changes" by Helen M. Alters. Page 50 features a photo of Bellefonte Academy’s swimming pool, which was 323 feet long and 80 feet wide and, supposedly, the largest concrete pool in the free world in 1917. According to the book, the pool was part of the Hughes Athletic Field located along Bishop Street, not far from where the high school football field is today.

A Facebook entry by Joan Long shared a memory of swimming there, but not during the “dog days” when polio was so prevalent, before the Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine was introduced.

Jim Quici, when asked about the pool, said, “I swam in it. It was about 300 feet long. When the war was over, the pool was filled in and they brought Army trailers in first to help the returning veterans with housing.” According to Quici, houses were built to replace the trailers eventually.

Shirley Baney shared her knowledge of the pool, too.

“My house on the corner of Hughes and Logan is built over a wall of the pool. The wall of my garage sets on it.“ Baney said her house is one of five in a section known as Rainbow Village.

David Dimmick said he remembers playing in the dirt where the pool had been, but didn't remember it from when it held water.

Connie Cousins covers Centre County for the Gazette.
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