Happy 70th birthday to West Seattle’s Colman Pool

We were on our way to Colman Pool‘s 70th-anniversary celebration this afternoon when the Marine View Drive fire forced a detour – but we went back for a photo in honor of its birthday. There’s a bit of its history in Lori Hinton‘s West Seattle 101” Colman Pool vignette; its origins as a “tide-fed swimming hole” are also noted in Seattle Parks‘ thumbnail Lincoln Park history. Here’s a Seattle Municipal Archives photo of the then-swimming hole in 1925:

Once built into a gorgeous pool, it was dedicated on July 4, 1941. Here’s a MOHAI photo from that year. The season for this beautiful on-the-beach saltwater swimming pool is short, and September will be here all too soon – here’s the pool schedule to plan your visit.

9 Replies to "Happy 70th birthday to West Seattle's Colman Pool"

  • islewrite July 4, 2011 (10:57 pm)

    Happy Birthday Colman, where I have spent many a happy afternoon! And, by the way, one of the young ladies who performed synchronized swimming in the opening ceremonies (possibly one of those shown in the MOHAI pic) still lives in West Seattle and volunteers at the Senior Center!

  • Lura Ercolano July 5, 2011 (12:30 am)

    Happy Birthday Colman Pool.

    As long as we are talking history, did you know it was originally a “whites only” facility? An aspect of Seattle history that should be remembered, not swept under the rug.

    See: http://db.wingluke.org/document.php?cat=library&id=1900.4874

    • WSB July 5, 2011 (12:54 am)

      I had not come across that while searching for links with history. Found more on it in this book excerpt – seems to have been quite a city flashpoint:
      There’s a lot more to read online about, as this report/retrospective labels it, “Segregated Seattle”:

  • Gary T. Burris July 5, 2011 (9:17 am)

    I grew up in Lincoln Park playing tennis in the summer until 11.00AM then walking down the hill to Coleman Pool for the day. I learned to swim in 1949 at the age of 5 or 6 in this great pool and participated in 1 and 3 metre springboard diving and “clown diving” during the West Seattle Hi-YU festivities. Back in the fifties I was sitting in the bleachers and heard screams of help from what turned out to be two small brothers who had fallen off their makeshift raft and could not swim. I was able to swim out and bring them both back to shore. To this day I have the newsclipping from the Seattle Times. I was sixteen at the time.
    I remember the long walk home with my wet bathing suit rolled up in the wet bath towel, exhausted from a full day of pure childhood glory in beautiful Lincoln Park. What a way to grow up! I remember the Sears Family that lived upstairs and maintained the pool in it’s grand glory. Very nice people.
    Today I am 67 and living in Tucson working as a Realtor but you can be sure I have a pool and still play tennis. I just pretend I am still in Coleman Pool and Lincoln Park.

    Gary T. Burris
    Tucson, AZ

    • WSB July 5, 2011 (9:38 am)

      Thanks for sharing your memories, Gary! A member of the Sears family *still* lives at the pool as its operator … and is also famous around here now as an orca expert often seen researching out on the water during the season when those majestic creatures come by – TR

  • Michael July 5, 2011 (12:00 pm)

    Hey WSB:

    Any truth to the idea that Colman could be open nearly year round? Maybe a bubble perhaps? It is the best pool in the whole city and should be used as such!

    We would love it if it was expanded in the future into a whole complex like some communities have (Tualtin Hills, Oregon comes to mind).

    What has the research been over the years?

  • Don Helling July 5, 2011 (5:19 pm)

    Thanks for posting this. I didn’t realize that there was an anniversary. I was the pool manager at Colman from 1977 to about 1986 or so, when I moved to my current hometown of Bellingham. I have nothing but great memories of people and stories from working there. That pool is truly a gem that should be preserved.

    I have many great memories here are a few: the wonderful “pool rats” (the daily young visitors who often became future employees), keeping a small boat at the pool to “help with rescues” which it did, but it also came in handy for fishing when the kings were running past the point, and a day where so many orca passed the point that they were uncountable (Marc Sears, orca expert, was in heaven)…so many memories.

    Also, many area competitive swimmers have utilized the pool for training in the morning and evening, coming from all over the Seattle area before there was any other 50 meter facility available.

    This pool has affected so many Seattle lives and just having a facility like Colman that you have to walk five minutes to get to is a rarity that should be respected.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Kacey July 5, 2011 (6:19 pm)

    Colman Pool is one of the best things about West Seattle. Love it!

  • MsEvelyn July 5, 2011 (8:41 pm)

    Growing up in W Seattle was made all the better by having Colman pool in our Park. I remember paying 20 cents to be able to swim from like 10 a.m. ’til 8 p.m.! (THis was in the 60’s – mid 70’s or so). I also remember sneaking over the fence with friends and swimming after hours ’til we were discovered! Ah, the good ol’ days!!

Sorry, comment time is over.