The City Magazine Since 1975

Splash Zone

June 2018
Splash Zone
WRITER: 

Some 85 years ago, downtown residents could take a dip much closer to home

When summertime heat and humidity blanket the Lowcountry, Charlestonians are left searching for ways to stay cool. Today, peninsula dwellers in need of respite might spend the day splashing around on Folly or Sullivan’s, but some 85 years ago, downtown residents could take a dip much closer to home. In 1933, it was announced that the three-million-gallon reservoir behind George Street’s Middleton-Pinckney House would be transformed into a municipal pool. The result? An attraction so large it was outfitted with four diving boards of varying heights and had to be manned by at least four lifeguards at once. There was even a separate area for adult and children’s swim classes taught by the Red Cross. The George Burges Pool (pictured here circa 1948), named after a star College of Charleston swimmer who was killed in WWII, remained open until a race-ready swimming facility was built on Lee Street in 1974. The drained reservoir took on a new life as a haven for skaterboarders before being demolished in 1991. It is now remembered not only as the spot where locals beat the heat, but also as Charleston’s original skate park.

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Photograph by Ronald A. Reilly, Courtesy of The South Carolina Historical Society