If you were lucky enough to be in Mansfield on the afternoon of August 13, 1949, there’s a good chance you would have been all wet.
At 3 p.m. that Saturday afternoon, there was arguably as much excitement and civic pride on display as had ever occurred in Mansfield's first 92 years of existence when the Mansfield Memorial Swimming Pool was officially opened.
Talk of a town pool in the borough had first surfaced in 1935 when the concept was listed as a possible project as part of a recent infusion of New Deal Works Progress Administration money. That federal funding didn’t find its way to a pool for Mansfield, but both Blossburg and Wellsboro leveraged WPA resources to supplement community fund-raising efforts to start construction of municipal pools in 1937.
In its first meeting of the year in 1938, the Mansfield Business Men’s Association devoted most its meeting agenda at the Mansfield Hotel that cold January day to discussing the concept of bringing a pool to Mansfield.
Before the project could get organized and construction started, events in Europe and the Far East pulled the plug on the pool for the foreseeable future. Instead, the Business Men’s Association in conjunction with the Community Chest provided funding to expand and supervise the swimming hole on Corey Creek, located above the bridge on Newtown Road, for the use of area residents during the summer.
Kitty Loveland supervised the Corey Creek “swimming pool” along with Clarice Stilwell.
Although the “swimming pool” on Corey Creek was operational for almost five years – it closed for a short period due to the prevalence of infantile paralysis in nearby communities during the summer of 1944 -- it proved to be inadequate and impractical for many reasons.
Mansfield was more then ready for its own modern, cement pool when an overflow crowd gathered for a Community Forum in the Senior High Auditorium on the evening of May 6, 1947.
The crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of building a pool in Mansfield with a bevy of some of the most influential and respected citizens of the community lending their voices to the effort.
Kimble Marvin spoke on safety and sanitation and went so far as to suggest an indoor pool. Principal Warren L. Miller seconded the idea of an indoor pool stressing parents of small children do not like using the Corey Creek “pool” for safety reasons. Marion “Spotts” Decker weighed in stating there was no question that the community needed a swimming pool to offer swimming lessons.
Miss Jane Baldwin and Miss Jane Calkins represented the Senior High School and Miss Geraldine Griffin the Junior High School, declaring that Corey Creek was inadequate, unsanitary and dangerous.
Ted Casey, the coach of college football, basketball and baseball teams really hit the nail on the head when he said that a swimming pool would be the best thing for the community.
Alfred Cleveland, who would later be honored with a memorial plaque at the swimming pool for his untiring efforts to establish a pool in Mansfield, told of fund-raising efforts of the Lions Club. Sponsoring a minstrel show, basketball game and movies, the Lions had already raised several hundred dollars for a pool.
A feeling of euphoria swept over the crowd when the Smythe Park Association offered land next to the high school and suggested the swimming pool be located near the playground. William Swan – the district chairman of the Boy Scouts – brought the evening to a crescendo when he boldly stated that if the community started raising money now the pool could be ready for 1948.
Shortly following the meeting, a group of citizens formed the Mansfield Memorial Swimming Pool Corporation to plan the construction of the pool and oversee fund-raising efforts.
Estimates came in at $40,000 for the project with money being received from numerous organizations and individuals throughout 1948. But reaching the 1948 completion date mentioned during the community meeting proved too optimistic.
A bold decision was made in early 1949 to go ahead with the construction of the swimming pool even though funding was short of the required cost. Any delay, it was reasoned, would push the completion date back yet another year until 1950.