Bay Ridge Pool: a time capsule. That has Babe Ruth and Tahiti in it.
As we’re in the throes of planning our Down by the Bay Auction & Dinner Dance (now roughly 3 weeks away!), we’re feeling reflective about our summer home: the BRPA pool & beaches.
Time-travel with us for a minute.
Let’s go back 100 years–to 1915. Bay Ridge was just starting to colonize–gas-powered cars and boats were just introduced. Daytrippers were starting to come. This is the year it all started happening for the beautiful area on the corner of Herndon & Bay, framed by the Bay & Black Walnut Creek.
The Bay Ridge Inn: the early years.
In 1915, a small, tudor-style hotel was built on the property. It attracted families from Washington and Baltimore (and beyond) looking for week-long summer getaways. Some organizations and Sunday school camps also visited–it made for a happy, quiet existence for roughly 15 years. (Image: BR cerca 1918).
Bay Ridge meets the South Seas.
At the time of the Great Depression, the Inn was sold to the Lofflers (who built the Spanish-style house on the corner of Bay & Hull–that still remains today!). Their daughter, Helene, worked with her husband Raymond Baur to transform the hotel into a complete beach resort that became known as “Baur’s Beach”. It was a completely unique tropical escape–to Tahiti no less–for people needing a lift during those rough times.
We’re talking cabanas. Thatched roof lifeguard stands. Dance pavilions. Bathhouses. Diving boards. Tennis Courts. Casinos. Bowling alley (!). Expansive playground. This resort was incredible–all decorated with authentic, south-seas flair. The Inn itself was ornately decorated with Ching Dynasty Chinese furniture–antiques and art that made a visitor feel as though inside a museum.
It was on. Celebrities were making their ways to Bay Ridge in lavish entourages–Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jack Dempsey, Ethel Barrymore, Joel McCrae and Dick Powell, for examples.
A War-time Refuge
It was during the advent of World War II that the Inn changed hands again.The Inn was sold to B.B. Wills around 1941, a businessman with lots of experience with resorts up and down the east coast. He rented the Inn to the federal government during the war as a “rest home for wounded Merchant Marine seamen. Often shell-shocked and in need of a quiet, safe place to recuperate..”
The Soviet Government Purchasing Commission rented another part of the resort. A summer camp was set up for “the children of the commission and Soviet Embassy staff”.
Post-war popularity: 1950s
After the war, the resort was re-opened to the public and attracted company outings, Navy celebrations and more. Much of the Baurs Beach decor was preserved–and in 1957 the swimming pool was built.
Next up: the BR Inn in the 60s, 70s & 80s. Hint: its sweeeeeet. Share any pics, memories or thoughts in the comments below or to [email protected]
COME BE A PART OF NEW HISTORY.
Join us at the Down By The Bay Auction & Dinner Dance — a truly unforgettable night of merry-making & fundraising. Help keep the pool going for more decades of community life & love.
All photos, captions and Bay Ridge history from the post above is drawn from Bay Ridge on the Chesapeake, An Illustrated History by Jane Wilson McWilliams and Carol Cushard Patterson, 1986.