In the Beginning…
The Pool at Blue Ridge Swim Club is a historic treasure. Built in 1913 by R. Warner Wood, the Pool was the centerpiece of Blue Ridge Camp, established nearby in 1909. The camp was founded by Wood, a UVa. graduate who believed in developing both “mind and body.” Blue Ridge Camp offered “symmetrical, physical, moral and social development in boys, along with plenty of healthful, natural fun. Photo at right by Rufus Holsinger, courtesy U.Va. Library Special Collections.
1919 through 1944
In 1919, Wood decided to sell the property, and it was purchased by Pauline and Allen White, who owned and operated the Pool from 1919 to 1944. A 1937 color film shows extremely clear and blue water. Bathhouses can be seen on the west side of the Pool’s deep end. Photo at right courtesy the Ralph Feil Collection, UVa. Library Special Collections.
In 1944, Monica Baker bought the pool and established it as a club, running it until she sold it to the club’s members in 1966. From 1966 to 2011, the members operated the club and worked to maintain the greenery surrounding the facility despite suburban encroachment. Among the important volunteer members in these years were Jennifer Baker, Jonathan Baker, Ruth and Paul Barolsky, Lester and Mary Beaurline, Cindy Benton-Groner, Polly Buxton, Opel David, Mike and Margaret Gorman, Doug Little, Jean Marshall, Eleanor May, Ruth Ellen Outlaw, Kim Taylor, Tracy and Rip Verkerke, Bim Webb, and Murray Whitehill. At right are the girls of the July 4th Water Ballet performance of 1961. Photo from Pool Archives.
Since 2011, Todd Barnett has owned the facility, hosting Blue Ridge Field Camp, his co-ed day camp founded in 2000. He has made a number of improvements to the facility including a timber frame pavilion. He also worked to have the property placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property now hosts both its historic functions–club swimming and a summer camp. Below, Barnett is presenting the 80-year-old Grandmother’s Race trophy to Cindy Benton-Groner.