Leroy Springs Swimming Pool
On the Presbyterian College campus, the July heat brings back memories of the Leroy Springs Swimming Pool.
Davison M. Douglas, the ninth president of Presbyterian College, believed in the importance and value of physical activity as a part of the educational process. In 1913, the second year of his tenure, the football and basketball programs were started on campus. After World War I, the PC student body had grown to approximately 150 students and plans were made by Douglas to build a dormitory, a dining hall, and a gymnasium.
Colonel Leroy Springs, a Lancaster, South Carolina cotton manufacturer and close personal friend of Dr. Douglas, donated $100,000 for the construction of a gymnasium. It was planned by fitness experts of the day to include the latest design concepts for sports facilities and it became a reality in 1924. Enthusiastic students dedicated their next yearbook in honor of the donor (Spirit of PC, 42).
Dr. Douglas defended the high cost of the gymnasium in an Atlanta Constitution article on January 21, 1923, stating. . .
“The cost of the gymnasium will be greater than that of the dormitory because while a college may build, in the course of time, several dormitories, it will have but one gymnasium and it should be [built] for all time.”
In 1929, Colonel Springs made another gift to the college and a regulation swimming pool was built adjacent to the gymnasium. It was completed at a cost of approximately $50,000 and was considered one of the finest pools in the South. At the time it was built, it was the only indoor pool on a college campus (Postcard History Series: Laurens County, Arcadia, 2007, 85).
The June 1929 issue of the Quarterly Bulletin of the Presbyterian College of SC stated that the “beautiful swimming pool being added to Springs Gymnasium would be ready for use September first, 1929.” That November, the new pool complex was dedicated on Thanksgiving day during Homecoming festivities.
In 1933, the college yearbook reported that swimming had been added to the intercollegiate sports lineup on campus. Coach Walter A. Johnson was responsible for adding the new sport and the first swimming meet was scheduled on March 7 of that year against Furman.
After the construction of Templeton Physical Education Center in 1974, Springs Gymnasium was primarily used for intramural sports. In 1984 a massive renovation of Springs Gymnasium and Pool connected the two buildings forming Springs Campus Center. Windows along the first floor allowed one to look from the pool into the campus center, canteen, and bookstore. An open area on the opposite side of the pool provided space for sunbathing.
In 2008, Springs Campus Center was once again renovated. Offices of the Campus Life staff were moved from Douglas House to the upper floors of Springs, the bookstore was relocated to uptown Clinton, the food service area was expanded, and the mosaic tile pool was drained and covered over with flooring in order to provide a spacious fitness center for the college. The pool remains below the floor of the fitness center where one can still get a glimpse of the “shallow end” through the floor.
Click the images to enlarge. Also, please note that the Presbyterian College Magazine, Blue Stocking and Pac Sac have been digitized and are available for online viewing at the Internet Archive [www.archive.org].