Over the years since the Duke Park pool closed in 1993, there has been a lot of interest in converting the old bath house into a community center, multi-purpose building and a picnic shelter. People from the neighborhood have spent many hours, days, and weeks negotiating with the City of Durham, trying to work out details, and lobbying local builders and architects. Over twenty years later, the bath house continues to decay. Improving it is a Capital Improvement Project for the City of Durham. The Duke Park Neighborhood Association is excited to partner with the City of Durham, The Durham Parks Foundation, and The Duke Park Preservation Initiative to move closer to realizing our shared goal.
The bath house structure does have some historic interest. It was built as part of a WPA project in the 1930’s and the building is the oldest building in any of Durham’s parks. For more pictures of the bath house and pool during its unfortunately segregated heyday see http://www.opendurham.org/buildings/duke-park-duke-park-pool-and-bathhouse.
Ultimately, the biggest issue is that the bath house is on City property and whatever gets done with it must meet local, state and federal requirements, which are many and complicated. We are pleased that Durham Parks and Recreation has included this project in their priorities sent to the Durham City Council for funding in the 2017-2018 budget.
The late Bill Anderson, a long time Duke Park resident, incurable optimist, and activist, schemed constantly to get people to donate to rebuild the bath house and talked to whoever would listen about the beautiful old roof. Largely because of Bill, interest in renovating the bath house remained strong.
The City does want to use the bath house space for a public building. Parks & Recreation needs more shelters and this is a good location right next to the street and much more accessible than the current shelter. Several years ago the City hosted an open house and solicited input on possible designs. The current design proposal (not an actual building plan, that must come once the project is funded) is to tear down the existing bath house (salvaging historic materials to the extent possible) and build a new pavilion structure which would serve as a shelter and also an event stage for concerts, theater, and the annual Beaver Queen Pageant. Given the current condition of the structure, and having explored many other options, we are in support of this plan.
The Duke Park Neighborhood Association has put forth the proposal that the completed pavilion be dedicated as the Bill Anderson Memorial Pavilion in tribute to Bill’s contributions to Durham and Duke Park. We would like to demonstrate our support and to honor Bill by raising funds for the project.
Donations may be made to the Durham Parks Foundation on behalf of this project. Funds raised, combined with those donated to the Duke Park Preservation Initiative will be restricted for this project [and are tax deductible to the extent of the law].