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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Cool Pool

by Jaquelin Drane Nash, 2006

On 9 July 1933 the Tarboro Town Council voted to ask Frick and Company of Waynesboro, Pa., to design and install a refrigerating unit for its new municipal swimming pool. After operating for only three months, the olympic-design pool, containing 300,000 gallons of water and with a constant flow of 400 gallons per minute, had become uncomfortably warm from the summer's record heat and the activity of swimmers. By mid-August Frick had installed the refrigerating device at a cost of $2,592, making the Tarboro pool what is believed to have been the first and perhaps only refrigerated outdoor pool in the country.

Tarboro's "cool pool" drew crowds of swimmers and swimming meets throughout the 1930s. In 1943 the national Amateur Athletic Union was held there, with Governor J. Melville Broughton as the honored guest. Native Tarboro swimmers won blue ribbons all over the country during this period, as the town's unique pool helped put it firmly in the national swimming picture.



Image credit:

Baker. 1939. "Carolyn Perrett, May Champion Winner, Tarboro." North Carolina Department of Conservation and Development. State Archives of NC, Call no. ConDev2016A.

See also: "Municipal Swimming Pool, Tarboro, N. C." Date unknown. Asheville Postcard Company. North Carolina Postcard Collection. Local identifier: P052;033-0034/ North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Online at,9916.

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Heard it closed when black people started going there in the 70s. I believed cement was poured into it correct?


Where was this pool located?


Yes, that is the "Cool Pool."
Those tanks in the background were the highly effective sand and gravel filtration system.
I was a member of the Tarboro Swim Team for a decade,
The pool was in use when I left the Tarboro area around 1980, and was replaced by 1986.


Dear Linda,

Thank you so much for visiting NCpedia and sharing all of this information!  Your comments will stay with the entry for others to get more information about the pool's history.

And I will update the image caption to indicate that it is an image of the pool.

Thanks so much and best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library


Note aboutthe diving boards. The photograph shows Carolyn Perrett sitting upon thehigh diving board in 1939. That board was removed about 20-years later, following a fatal dive by a young man who went too far out from the board, crushing his skull on the up-slope of the pool bottom. There never were any high diving boards in Tarboro after that horrible evening.


Yes,that is the "Tarboro Town Pool" whck had also been known as the "Cool Pool."
The tanks in the background were the huge sand and gravel filtration systems, servin th the Olympic sizecompetition pool, wading and splash pools.
I do recall reading an article in The Daily Southerner, ca. 1965, about the benefits of this filtration system, interviewing Charlie Cooper and others. Cooper had been a champion swimmer in his younger years, then the parent of a talented swimmer, and a coach to the Tarboro Swim Club. Cooper was employed by the Town of Tarboro. His daughter, Susan Coopr Bolton, may have copies of primary sources with more information.
I know this because I was a member of the TSC swim team from age 5 to 15, and practiced daily in hat pool, Memorial Day to Labor Day for a decade.

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