By Kara Hamley O'Donnell
City of Cleveland Heights, Department of Planning and Development
an awful lot of time at Cumberland Pool. We'd buy a tag, sew it to
our bathing suits and that was our pass for the year. We were there
daily." -Bess Comber, February 2005
Cumberland bathhouse and pool under
In 1915 Cleveland Heights Village’s voters
approved $100,000 to acquire land that would later become Cumberland and
Cain parks, however, it wasn’t for another decade that part of the
site would be developed as Cumberland Park. In 1923, as Cleveland Heights’
population grew and the small village matured into a city, leaders hired
nationally known landscape architect and Cleveland Heights resident A.D.
Taylor to design what would become the city’s first park. Two years
later, excited to see Taylor’s vision become a reality, the city asked
its residents to approve $75,000 in bonds to complete the vision for the
Cumberland Park. Construction for the pool started in July 1926 and by March
1927 was mostly completed. The next month a $51,000 bid was awarded for
the construction of Cumberland Bathhouse, an architectural gem that is virtually
unchanged today. The brick and limestone bathhouse shows the influence of
Williamsburg Georgian architecture, which was popular at the time. Zigzag
brickwork, arched windows and arcaded porticos are Georgian details, while
the overall layout is typical of early 20th-century bathhouses.
Cumberland pool diving show, 1945.
Cumberland Pool was the first
public pool in Cleveland Heights and opened to residents on August 1,
1927, in a celebration deemed by the Heights Press as “the biggest
municipal event of 1927.” The pool equipment included “the
most modern apparatus for diving and stunts” and the pool was sufficiently
large to care for from 2,500 to 3,000 swimmers per day. Opening events
featured a water carnival including a program of diving stunts. Both a
doctor and a nurse were on duty at all times and six lifeguards (five
men and one woman) would work eight-hour shifts. Safety was a prime concern:
swimming and diving lessons were provided free of charge, and bathers
were required to wear dark suits so that they could be distinguished from
the white bottom of the pool.
Ice Skating at Cumberland Park,
In the last decade, the city has worked to protect
this historic Cleveland Heights Landmark through sensitive maintenance,
repairs, installation of new light fixtures flanking the entry and last
year’s replication of doors that matched the long-gone originals.
Editor’s note: This article was written
by Ms. Hamley O’Donnell on May 8, 2007, using information in Landmark
Commission of Cleveland Heights folder.