Haunts & Jaunts: Longacre Swimming Pool

Longacre Swimming Pool

How it looked back in the day when the author realized that the teenage years were the most difficult! *Photo by “Brian”

   Back in the late 1960s, my mother and Aunt Janice would load the car with myself, brother, and three cousins for a journey to Longacre Swimming Pool on the Southside. It was an experience far removed from our daily lives. They would plant themselves on a blanket on the grassy hillside, trying their best to keep track of five kids bouncing about in the chaotic water of a Saturday afternoon. There was not a lot happening in Indianapolis for a kid back in those days, however, Longacre became the exception. It was the place to be! And with quite the history…

   Attorney Edwin Thompson created the park in 1927. It was a parcel of rolling ground with trees, green space and endless possibilities. Initial vision soon transformed into a park-like setting of baseball diamonds and basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic area, a golf fairway, croquet and pony rides. And the diamond jewel of it all—a literal acre sized kidney shaped pool fed naturally by the waters of nearby Lick Creek. Originally it housed concrete sides with a natural bottom until fully

Aerial shot of Longacre Pool. *Photo from the author’s postcard collection

concreted in the 1950s. The passage of years witnessed a sand beach, paddle boats and canoes, bathhouse with dance hall and a modern playground. Urban Stop 6 on Madison Avenue became the destination on a hot Indianapolis weekend.

  Property Manager Pam Thompson was more than cordial when I popped in unannounced. It was a hectic day! The water in the mobile home park had been turned off temporarily, with phones ringing off the hook. Working there some 20 years, she was enthusiastic about not only her memories, but of those still residing in the park since the pool years.

   In 1946 the property was sold to Rufus Dodrill Jr. and was family operated until 1972. In the 1960s Dodrill had his own vision—developing the land surrounding the pool into a mobile home community. Regardless, the pool continued to remain a destination on the Southside.

 With turning 16 came my drivers license. No more mom or Aunt Janice. My group of friends traveled from the far Eastside to Longacre for a day in the sun. We also wanted to pick up girls. That’s what young noodle-heads from Warren Central did. We surveyed the scene, locking in upon two obviously older, yet attractive, girls sitting on a blanket on the hillside. I approached them (the elected one) asking if they would come swimming with me and my friends. They held up their hands, wedding rings glistening in the sunlight. I walked back to the group with their laughter ringing in my ears. I’m surprised I didn’t need counseling over that one!

Charing Cross Drive–former location of the pool. *Photo by R Hinton

  As I pulled into Longacre Mobile Home Park off of Madison Avenue, steering onto Lick Creek Parkway, through the double railroad bridge archways, and a circular right drive to arrive at the clubhouse, the route from the 1970s came back to me. I believe the current rental office is either, close to the original entrance to the pool, or THE entrance, only drastically altered. Pam Thompson explained that back in the day there was only Longacre or Westlake on the far Westside. She visited both, but preferred Longacre. “The grass was so green, the park was well kept.” she stated. Not so much like the present. Time and different ownership brings changes.

   By early 1970s, crowds had began to drop off. It could have had anything to do with with more air conditioning in private homes, an influx of closer neighborhood pools, or upkeep and maintenance. Dodrill sold the complex in 1972 and the pool became open only to park residents. At least, for a short time. The pool was plowed under in the late 1970s or early 1980s.A rumor was that someone drowned and that’s why it closed. “Ridiculous!” Pam states. “No one ever drowned at Longacre.” It very well might have become prime real estate for more potential mobile homes.

   My mother and Aunt Janice have passed on. My cousins live in Tampa, Fla. Time marches forward as it should. I got a few phone numbers from girls from the pool at Longacre, but nothing ever panned out. Back in the day I was a madman upon the slide, but never had the courage for the diving platform. Well, maybe once! And, the Longacre Pool… a respite and sanctuary for, not only my brief experience, but also for the countless many throughout the years, lies under the asphalt of Charing Cross Drive.

   It doesn’t seem right!