Wesley Grant Jr. can’t help but smile at the memories he made at Asheville’s southside Walton Street Park and Pool, a once-iconic institution of the city’s Black community. “It was the only place we could go swimming,” recalls the 80-year-old Asheville native, who first swam at the pool during segregation in the early 1950s. “But we had a lot of fun there.”
Whether he was learning to swim, jumping off the diving board, or laughing at the sheepish middle-aged man who dove into the water one day and lost his swim trunks, Grant says that some of his favorite childhood adventures took place at the pool. And he’s not alone.
Built in 1938, the pool served as a popular gathering place for Black people. Generations of children hung out there, first with their moms and dads, and then, eventually, with children of their own.
The pool closed in 2020, but it hasn’t been forgotten. The city’s Historic Resources Commission is working with community members to designate Walton Street Pool as a landmark, assuring that memories of such an important cultural gathering place will never run dry.
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