The Bay Ridge Pool: 60s – 80s
It’s fascinating to think that just few decades ago, the scene at 2 Herndon Avenue was so vastly different than the place it is today.
To set the stage a bit, in the 1960s & 1970s, our Chesapeake world was rapidly changing. Developments were going up all along the upper Bay–apartments, condominiums, housing developments, piers and marinas–the allure of Bay living had taken firm hold.
Bay Ridge continued to flourish as a community with more and more “year round” residents–with the BRCA working harder than ever to preserve and protect its natural bounties and unique qualities. The community was colonizing–forming community events, parades, jamborees, family activities and sporting teams.
Concurrently, the Bay Ridge Inn prospered as a business–even under the heavy weight of steep property taxes. A business that employed many young Bay Ridge residents. A business that welcomed Bay Ridge residents as guests to the pool and inn for BRCA events or private weddings. A business that continued to work alongside Bay Ridge to protect the acres of beautiful, un-developed, waterfront land from developers. And succeeded.
It was a unique, symbiotic coexistence.
The Inn & Pool: a snapshot.
Residents who grew up here in the 60s, 70s & 80s have fond, unique memories of the Bay Ridge Inn & pool. For the most part, the pool resided as its own entity–somewhat separate of the day-to-day-Bay Ridge community happenings–drawing hoards of people to the public pool & beaches from nearby cities. Often the facilities were reserved for private parties or events–attracting large-scale businesses like Citicorp, Xerox and leading banks. In addition to its pool, beaches, expansive picnic grounds, the Inn offered everything from pony rides and volleyball to elegant banquets and dancing.
Evidence of Baur’s Beach still remained. The wooden, thatched roof beach huts. The Sadie Thompson Pago Pago Bar for examples (named after an old silent film). A brochure from the 1980-1990s references that the Inn had evolved to offer a “modern, full service banquet, catering and recreation center” for as many as 3,000 guests at a time.
The beautifully rendered illustration to the left orients things a bit for us. The dining area, bar and banquet facilities were all housed in the long building in the forefront. This is where our current pool currently sits. The arc in front represents the Herdon turn, as it becomes Bay Drive. The taller building behind it is the old Inn, the Tudor-style Inn built in 1915. During this time period, the Inn was used somewhat, a family was known to come and rent out the entire second floor for the summer. It was mentioned also that a lifeguard had lived there as well.
For Bay Ridge residents in the late summer, the draw of a non-nettled pool swim was very powerful. Children would cobble together the few-dollar, per-person entrance fee and bike around the hundreds of cars waiting to enter, lining all the way up Herndon–sometimes past the community gates. Cars packed to the gills with day-trippers from neighboring cities. Vast acres of picnic tables (now where CBF resides) would seat happy groups, BBQ-ing, eating and drinking in the shade until the pool closed in the evening.
The pool was L-shaped (see image at top) and always drew an enormous crowd. Many remember a wonderfully springy high diving board. Adjacent to the pool was a massive, aqua-blue-and-white pool-house that housed concessions, food, arcade games and perhaps some slot machines.
Some remember that one year instead of using the pool, they used the Bay, namely the “4th of July beach”–the River Drive beach with the pilings that once hung nettle nets, in theory, to keep the nettles out. (Over time, this logic proved flawed, as the smaller nettles were able to enter, grow, then were more or less trapped “in”–with some less-than-happy results).
Community like never before.
This era represented a huge chapter of transition for Bay Ridge–our community collectively came together on many levels to protect the woods, our beaches and properties during these years. And nothing can provide further evidence of the collective creativity, smarts and determination of our community than what went down in the 1990s. (Hint: its the next installment–coming soon!).
Enjoy the photo gallery below to fill in some of the blanks. We’re looking at this pool history as an organic, work-in-progress collection–we’d love to hear from anyone who has stories or images of this era. Comment here or on Facebook, or send emails directly: hmoring at gmail.com
Postcard: Baur's Beach (50s)This illustrated postcard has no date but shows the expanse of Baur's Tahitian getaway.
Bay Ridge Pool PostcardBay Ridge Pool postcard cerca 1960--photo by M. Warren.
Bay Ridge Pool postcardBay Ridge Pool postcard cerca 1960--photo by M. Warren.
Bay Ridge Inn Placemat during 70s-80sI have to believe this pool sat closer to where CBF is now, as the Inn resided over by Herndon, where our pool currently exists.
The "Skipper's Kitchen"Care to dine in the "Skipper's Kitchen"? Snapped from the 1960 placemat/postcard mailer.
Bar PatioHave a Pina Colada on the Bar Patio, perhaps! Excerpted from Bay Ridge Inn placemat/mailer from 1960.
Cocktail loungeSidecar, anyone? The Cocktail Lounge. Excerpted from Bay Ridge Inn placemat/mailer from 1960.
The main entrance.Amazing that this facility would house events for up to 3,000 people. The main entrance. Excerpted from Bay Ridge Inn placemat/mailer from 1960.
BRB LetterheadBRI Logo letterhead. Cerca 86. Photo & caption credit: Kyle Foss.
Matchbook_frntThe candelabra were brought out for weddings and events, and became the Inn's visual identity. Its been said they had up to 80 of these for banquet use. Photo: Kyle Foss.
Matchbook_backPhoto: Kyle Foss.
Bay Ridge Inn New Years AdBay Ridge Inn New Years Ad. Photo: Kyle Foss.
Vintage sign salvaged with a happy ending.This sign was saved from the tear-down rubble by a (then) 14 year old Bay Ridger named Colin Donovan, who lovingly kept this sign for Jessie Rhines (long-time Bay Ridger) when she built her new home with Corey Deahl. The sign is lovingly hung in their house today.
Bay Ridge Pago Pago Patio BarSadie Thompson's Pago Pago Patio Bar. Cerca 86. caption & photo credit: Kyle Foss.
Menu_FrontFront of the Bay Ridge Inn Menu: image by Kyle Foss.
Menu_InsideI'll have the Haddock Normandie, thank you! Photo: Kyle Foss.
Beach_price_signAdmission sign on front of Gate 1. (photo & caption credit: Kyle Foss)
Bathhse_from_bayA few of the pool or bathhouse from the bay... this likely sat closer to CBF. Photo: Kyle Foss.
Bay Ridge Inn from BayBay Ridge Inn from Bay. It appears as though the Tudor-style Inn is still visible behind the banquet/dining building in forefront. Photo & caption credit: Kyle Foss.
Hallway_mapPainting in front entrance foyer. Originally painted by John Taylor in 1961. In 1986, Kyle Foss repaired the deteriorating wall and painting. Caption & photo credit: Kyle Foss.
GateGate 1 inside. Note the high security cash drawer. Caption & Photo credit: Kyle Foss. Cerca 86.
80s lifeguards.Lifeguards Brett and Jon. Cerca 86. Caption & photo credit: Kyle Foss.
Palms & shade.The palms had to be refreshed every few years, and were brought up from South Carolina. Photo & credit: Kyle Foss. Cerca 86.
Beach NorthThe Bay Ridge community beach facing north, from the property line in front of the Inn. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge can be seen in the distance. Photo & caption credit: Kyle Foss. Cerca 86.
Beach SouthView of beach, taken in front of the banquet hall, facing south. Caption & Photo credit: Kyle Foss. Cerca 86.
Bay Ridge Marlins cerca 75.Shot of the Bay Ridge Marlins cerca 75. Need more of these! Send any you've got. emailblast @ bayridge.org
Back of placematBack of placemat/mailer from 1960.
Brochure aerial shotAn aerial shot from the brochure cerca 1990.
Under the palmsBeach-goers on the "Bay Ridge Beach". Excerpted from brochure, cerca 90.
The poolPool in action! Excerpt from a Bay Ridge Inn brochure cerca 1990.
Buffet in tentLikely snapped from a wedding or corporate event. Excerpted from brochure, cerca 90.
Pony ridesThe brochure states that it offers the "best day of your life". Inside & outside bounties including pony rides, volleyball and more. Excerpted from brochure, cerca 90.
Tahiti lives on!Thatched umbrellas in use through the 90s. Excerpted from brochure, cerca 90.
EventsClowns, too? You bet. Excerpted from brochure, cerca 90.
Today.And now, today, after a very exciting transition in the 90s (stay tuned!), the BRPA is now the summer home for Bay Ridge & Annapolis Cove residents.
- Bay Ridge on the Chesapeake, An Illustrated History by Jane McWilliams and Carol Patterson, 1986.
- Thank you for the kind contributions & interviews for many community members: Patricia Bender, Kathleen Wills, Dave Gendell, Jessie Rhines, Elizabeth Coleman. Thank you!