Every once in a while, we step outside Black Wide-Awake‘s period of focus to highlight an especially interesting document.
Reid Street Community Center opened in 1939 as, of course, a segregated facility. Long-time plans to build a state-of-the-art “community center building for the whites” (as it was called in a 11 August 1954 Daily Times editorial, and thus the moniker “White Rec,” as it was known for decades and maybe still is) screeched to a halt in early 1954 after the United States Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that “separate but equal” standards of racial segregation were unconstitutional.
Opined the Daily Times editorialist:
The exhortations worked, and voters (who were largely white) elected to fund both community centers. Architectural sketches of the proposed new (or renewed) buildings dropped in March 1955, and here’s the proposed updated facility at Reid Street with its big new pool.
A few features were pared away before final construction, but anyone, like me, who learned to swim at Reid Street as late as the 1980s will immediately recognize the high and low diving boards and the lifeguard’s chair. The overhang shown shading the exit from the locker rooms, where you turned in your wire clothes basket and received an enormous numbered safety pin, didn’t make the final cut. Nor did the tennis courts, the large wading pool, or the landscaping.
Courtesy of Google Maps, here’s an aerial rear view of Reid Street Community Center shot when the pool was closed during the pandemic. It’s looking a little worse for the 68 years of wear since 1955, and the $1.9 million overhaul recently announced is long overdue.