Honey Grove Preservation League

Saving and Documenting the History of Honey Grove, Texas

The Natatorium at Crockett Park

Crockett Park and Its Swimming Pool
By Malinda Allison

 The land for Crockett Park park was purchased in 1919.  The October 24, 1919 issue of the Honey Grove Signal contains a long list of citizens who donated money to purchase the land, about 4 acres, to become the City park.  The largest contributors were the Underwood family.  The article states that the park was to be dedicated to the "soldier boys of Honey Grove and vicinity who volunteered their services and their lives in defense of world-wide democracy and humanity."

Some months prior to the establishment of the park in 1919, a swimming pool was constructed near what is now Crockett Park.  Reprinted below if Mary Anne's wonderful article about the natatorium and the park.  The natatorium was a commercial enterprise.   An advertisement in the Honey Grove Signal said that on Mondays and Wednesdays between 5-7 pm only ladies would be admitted to the pool.  The newspaper also reported that the natatorium was visited every night by large crowds, many coming from a distance, and that many tourists were camping in the park at night to enjoy the park and natatorium.  Sandwiches, cakes and cold drinks were sold.  An ad said "What's finer than a sunrise breakfast after a swim?"

Apparently the commercial enterprise floundered later in the 1920s, as an article in the September 4, 1925 Honey Grove Signal said that the site of the natatorium was being considered for a laundry.  In 1928 it closed down "because of lack of patronage."The possibility of new natatorium to be built at Crockett Park was discussed in 1955 by the Farmers and Merchant Progressive Club, with the Club going on the record as favoring the project.  Sadly nothing came of this proposal.

The following article appeared in the Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, April 18, 1996.

Crockett Park Natatorium
by Mary Anne Thurman

How many of you remember hearing about the natatorium at Crockett Park? Many of you “youngsters” will say what is a natatorium? That was an old fashioned name for a swimming pool. If you have heard of the natatorium and know the meaning of the word, it will surely tell your age!

Recently a reporter from the Paris newspaper was in town researching Crockett Park for an upcoming article on regional parks. This led me to try to find what information I could about the old natatorium. In my growing up days, I had always heard that Honey Grove had a swimming pool, but that someone had drowned there and it was closed. It was a regret of all of my teenage friends that we had a public pool and had lost it. We had to go to Commerce, Paris, or Bonham State Park to swim. Incidentally, we called the pool in Commerce “the natatorium” also.

I felt one of the best sources of information on the pool at Crockett Park might be Mrs. Flora McKee who lived next to Crockett Park for many years. She remembers that the swimming pool was located on the comer of Main and Piner. The building for the pool was located west of the pool and was constructed of wood. Mrs. McKee noted that there is still a part of a concrete wall exposed in the park today. I drove out there and sure enough, there it was. In all of my years roaming over the park, I had never noticed that.

The pool was just newly built and possibly not even completely finished when Clarence N. Barnes, a sixteen year old boy, drowned there in 1919. He was the brother of Mrs. Lucy Newberry, who still resides in Honey Grove. Mrs. Newberry told me that her father sued the city to close the pool to prevent any other drowning there, and was successful in his suit.

There are surely others who remember more about the old natatorium than the sketchy facts I have detailed, and it would be interesting to hear from you. This is an interesting part of our town’s history.

Mrs. McKee’s other recollections of the park included there being cabins and a barn belonging to Dr. Cappleman located on the park property. She said that she thought the property had always belonged to the city. Other memories include the park being mowed by a team of horses and a sickle mower to prevent cows from grazing there. There were carnivals there every summer and the park has seen many, many years of family events, public events, plays by children, exercise by citizens and possibly courtships started there.  If only the trees could talk!