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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.

A view of Lake Ogleton shot from the air, 1982. Source: Bay Ridge on the Chesapeake, An Illustrated History.
A view of Lake Ogleton shot from the air, 1982. Source: Bay Ridge on the Chesapeake, An Illustrated History: Jane McWilliams and Carol Patterson, 1986.

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.

Admission sign on front of Gate 1. (photo & caption credit: Kyle Foss)
Admission sign on front of Gate 1. (photo & caption credit: Kyle Foss)

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.

Front of the Bay Ridge Inn Menu: image by Kyle Foss.
Front of the Bay Ridge Inn Menu: image by Kyle Foss.

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.

Bay Ridge Marlins cerca 1975.The Marlins
It was during this era that the Bay Ridge Marlins got their start (1957, to be exact). The Bay Ridge Inn graciously let Marlins in before or after public hours for practice and use.

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!).

dbtb_sm_logoAnd now. Its time to party. Let’s celebrate 100 years of this action! And raise some critical funds to keep our pool alive & happy for many more decades to come.

BUY TICKETS HERE–the event is next weekend!

 

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

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Sources:

  • 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!

By Holly Patterson Moring

Hello, community! I grew up here in BR, moved away and came home. Literally. To my parents back yard. I live here now with my husband and daughter--happily bookended my family on both sides.

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