The History of Pools Swim Up Bars At Put-in-Bay
Islanders, summer workers, and island visitors all have something in common. When it gets too hot in the summer, they want to cool off. We could all go down to one of the island caves where the temperature stays a constant below 60-degree temperature, but that doesn’t seem like a practical solution. The other option is to get into the water for a refreshing dip. Since the beginning of time, humans have gone swimming in lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans, and streams.
The same held true in the late 1800s when the bathing beach at the end of Delaware Ave. was the popular place to cool off. At the turn of the century, there was a water slide for visitors who rented bathing costumes and changed into them at Deisler’s big building directly on the lake. For this article, we’re not going to concentrate on places to cool off in the lake, but instead look at the numerous pools swim up bars on the islands over the years.
The First Pools -The first swimming pool on the island was at the Hotel Victory, which was built in the early 1890s.
The pool was added a few years after the Hotel Victory opened. Interestingly, the pool was the first pool which allowed bathers of both sexes to swim together. The “natatorium,” as it was called, was covered by a pavilion to protect swimmers from the sun. The fenced-in concrete remains of the pool can still be seen at the South Bass Island State Park. It was some years later before other island pools swim up bars were built.
Among the early ones were the pools at the Old Yachtmen Club on East Point, the pool at the BayTel where the Bayshore Resort is located today, and the one at the Commodore Motel right on Delaware Ave., where Mr. Ed’s is located today. There was also a pool at the Victory Park Resort on Niagara Ave. just as one entered Victory Woods.
If you look closely, you can see where it has been filled in. Saunder’s Resort also has one of those older swimming pools by its golf course. This pool was put in by Art Saunders about 60 years ago. It is the oldest “continually- used” pool on the island. The pool at the Yachtsmen Club is older, but for many years was not used and was restored by the Graves family when they bought the property.
Another pool was built across from the Put-in-Bay Airport terminal. It had a snack bar/cafe that Mary Hauck, the wife of famous Trimotor pilot Harold Hauck, ran for many years. Years later, J.P. Martini leased the property from Les Kuhlman and operated it as Roscoe Tooners. The pool always had leaks and was challenging to maintain and keep filled. As bigger and fancier pools were built, the once-crowded pool began having significant problems and was abandoned. It sat empty for years, and today, you’d never know it was there.
The Crew’s Nest Early 70’s
When the Crew’s Nest opened in the early 1970s, a very modern junior Olympic-sized pool was built on the former Slatmeyer property. Preschooler Eric Booker cut the ribbon when the pool was dedicated in 1973. The pool initially had a high diving board and restroom/changing facilities, which were great for the times, but would be a bit antiquated by today’s standards.
Some of those early-year summer employees remember skinny dipping in the pool on hot summer nights after the Crew’s Nest bar closed. Over the years, the Crew’s Nest pool has been a great place where swim lessons are given, parties have taken place, and multiple generations have become lifelong friends.
The Crew’s Nest also has a small lap pool that is open in the summer and covered for winter use. Some years back, displacement parties took place there. Numerous members would all get into the pool at one time. The water would rise to the top and start spilling out. The happy splashers would then get out and guess how many gallons of water it would take to refill the pool.
While the pool was being refilled, everyone would socialize and party. The winner was the person who came closest to guessing how many gallons of water it took to bring the water level back to normal. A few years ago, a separate adult pool was placed near the big pool. And now, plans call for the original pool to be removed and a new pool built with a water slide and a new climbing wall. Work will begin this fall.
Private Pools & Swim Up Bars
There are several pools privately-owned pools on the island. Todd and Jennifer Blumensaadt have one in their backyard in the Cooper Subdivision, and Ray and Juliana Matthew have a pool at their home at the Put-in-Bay Airport.
Ray Matthew is also a pool builder and built the adult pool at the Crew’s Nest a few years back. Jeremy and Stephanie Berman also have a beautiful pool at their home at the airport. There is also a pool at the Christensen home at the Pheasant Tail at the airport. Scott and Susan Market have a saltwater pool in their backyard with a lovely vineyard setting.
There are two somewhat unique residential pools on the island. One is at the West Shore lakefront home of Brad and Angie Ohlemacher. You won’t swim laps in their pool, but it is truly a one-of-kind pool in a unique setting. Next door, Michael and Anita McCann have a small pool that can easily be confused with a large hot tub.
The other pool, with a spectacular view, sits on the highest point of East Point at the Gonzalez home. This pool overlooks the channel between South Bass and Middle Bass Islands and looks straight over to Lonz Winery. Add the great sunset views from this location, and you’re looking at the best setting for any pool on the island.
Other Pools Swim Up Bars In Lake Erie
At Middle Bass, the first swimming pool was built when Burgundy Bay was being developed. It sat by the marina and clubhouse. All went well until the storms and floods of the early 1970s. One storm completely filled the pool with beach stones. The nearly-new pool was abandoned entirely and one was put in on raised ground just east of the clubhouse. There are two other pools on the island, one at St. Hazard’s in a Caribbean setting and the other, a wading pool with a waterfall, at J.F. Walleyes.
Kids love the one there; parents can sit and enjoy food and drink while the kids splash and wade in the water. North Bass is the only one of the three bass islands that has never had a swimming pool, but one of the smaller islands, Rattlesnake Island has a beautiful pool with a big deck overlooking the lake. This 60,000-gallon pool was built by Jack Adams in 1979. The pool is for the members of the club at Rattlesnake and isn’t open to the public.
The Modern-Day Pools Swim Up Bars – The Put-in-Bay Resort
Although you could get a beer at the cafe at the pool at the airport pool, the first real pool bar was at the Perry Holiday. The pool and deck were small in comparison to today’s places. Still, in the 1980s, the pool offered an opportunity to swim, tan, and enjoy those popular adult beverages that are fun to drink while sitting in a lounge chair; Bay Lodging Resort not only built a pool with a bar, but it was half inside and half outside. It also features the Buckeye Tiki Bar, which serves up some mighty fine cocktails and has become one of the most popular places on the island to catch the Ohio State Game.
Mist, the pool close by at the Commodore Motel, has a tropical theme, waterfall, loads of lounge space, and private cabanas. New this year at Mist is a Tree House Bar. The Put-in-Bay Resort & Conference Center also has a sizeable 44,000-gallon pool with a DJ stand, 40-person Jacuzzi hot tub, and swim-up bar. This is one of the most popular Put-in-Bay Pools & Swim Up Bars on the island and always seems to be the cleanest.
This is the bar where some fun, boisterous contests take place occasionally and host one of the most affordable Put-in-Bay Restaurants, the Blue Marlin Bar & Grill.
New this year is a Jumbotron TV screen which is a monstrous 6 feet tall by 12 feet long! As you can see, more than 30 pools have been built on the island in just over 100 years. How many have you ever been swimming in? Did you decide cool off in an island pool back in the day or 2019?