On Memorial Day weekend, our thoughts begin to turn to summer and outdoor activities.
Some of us think about a place where we spent many summer days, either swimming in the pool or boating on the lake or fishing. We had Sunday school picnics there, graduation parties, and birthday parties. We learned to swim at Crystal Lake, and measured our progress by how far into the deep areas we were allowed to venture.
Have you ever tried to describe Crystal Lake ? It’s hard because it was such a unique place. Even today, such a place does not exist, at least in this area.
Crystal Lake was mentioned recently in a post about a Davis family member (Josephine Davis Grogan, May 19th).
Here’s a brief history of Crystal Lake, and there are several photos. Most of the photos are early in its history. The swim suits may look a bit different over time, but the swimming pool, boating lake, fishing lake, and the pavilion or bath house, are the same.
An article in the Winston-Salem Journal announced in 1925 that “Beautiful Crystal Lake Opens Today.” It was called “a swimming resort,” located at the home of Harry T. Davis on Reynolda Road, four miles from Winston-Salem.” The pool was described as being “two hundred feet long and sixty-five feet wide, having a concrete bottom and sides. It starts at knee deep and runs to seven feet in depth. On each side is a sliding board both for adults and children, as well as the usual spring boards. The water is as clear as a crystal, hence its name, Crystal Lake. The water runs in one end from six springs and empties at the other end of the pool… .”
This was the public’s introduction to Crystal Lake, a recreation area that would be the site of entertainment for at least two generations of Winston-Salem residents.
The water wheel was in the middle of the pool. Some people may not remember it because it was later removed because the cost of insurance made it too expensive for the pool.
There were several levels of diving boards, including a platform on the very top. Over the years, the platform was removed, and some of the diving boards were either removed or closed. Now, this is really a “high dive.” Note the bleachers seen in the second photo. In later years, this area was cemented and opened to swimmers for sunbathing.
There was a road that circled the pool, and there were picnic tables spread throughout the pool and lake areas.
The photo at left (or above) shows the water wheel and looks toward the shallow, or children’s, area. There was a slide and a cover where parents could sit while children played. This was the end of the pool, and there was a painting on the wall that gave the illusion of a bridge. There were also two waterfalls that you could stand under and feel the water all around you. They can be seen on the right side, near the upper corner of the photo. One was in the children’s area, and one was just outside this area. The different depths of water were divided by concrete walls that went to the ground. There were spring boards on either side of the pool, as seen in the foreground on the right. The photo at right (or the second photo) is taken from the opposite direction.
The pavilion, or bath house, ran the width of the swimming pool. The photo at left (or top) is the older version of the bath house, which was rebuilt about 1950. The top portion of the pavilion could be entered by steps on the outside. So, spectators could sit on the benches in the pavilion without paying and entering the pool area. There was a juke box there, and dancing was allowed on the wooden floor. Benches surrounded the area, and the back of the pavilion overlooked the fishing lake.
Swimmers entered the bottom area of the pavilion and paid the price of admission. There was also a snack bar in this area. Wire baskets were rented to swimmers for holding clothing and personal items. A large safety pin was given to the swimmer that was engraved with a number that corresponded to the number on the basket. You wore the pin on your bathing suit, and had to show the pin to retrieve your basket. There were changing rooms in this area also.
At the very edge of the deep water section, a shallow “trough” ran the width of the pool. This might have been to catch the run-over water from the pool. The water was always very warm here because it was shallow, and swimmers liked to sit or lie in the warm water.
A boating lake was located above the swimming pool, and canoes could be rented to paddle on the lake and around the island outfitted with a gazebo. There was also a bridge to the gazebo.
According to Davis family history, Crystal Lake was closed in 1975. Hugh and Helen Davis retired, after managing the pool for about twenty-five years. The Corners Apartments, on Reynolda Road, were built in the Crystal Lake location. The boating lake, island, gazebo and bridge remain from the recreation area. Some other remnants can be seen from Crystal Lake, such as some of the stone walls along the paths.
The above photos show the entrance to the Corners Apartments, and the Gazebo at the boating lake.
Send your memories to share with readers and I’ll post them on the website.
Black and white photos courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection. Color photos by Molly Grogan Rawls.