Welcome back to our blog series! This will be the final post in this series, and we’ll be looking at what will (hopefully!) be the newest site added to the National Register of Historic Places in Plano. If you enjoyed this series, please let us know with a like, share, comment, or all three! If you have any ideas for another blog series you’d like to read or something you would like to know more about, shoot us a email and we’ll keep it in mind.
Before we jump right into the Texas Pool (ha, ha), we should go over a little background into the family that made it possible. The Hunt family is well-known not just in the Dallas area, but internationally. The head of the family was H.L. Hunt, who was an oil and gas tycoon primarily within the state of Texas. Over the decades Hunt’s companies and family have grown, as have their prominence in Dallas. H.L. Hunt had fifteen children, several of whom have carried on the family business and the Hunt legacy. Some of his children include Margaret Hill Hunt, namesake of the new bridge in downtown Dallas, Lamar Hunt, who coined the name Super Bowl, co-founded the AFL, NASL, MLS, and World Champion Tennis, and William Herbert Hunt, who continued in the family business of petroleum and oil, along with development.
Dallas North Estates was envisioned in 1959 by Herbert Hunt to create a better first impression of Plano when driving north from Dallas. Hunt acquired land in West Plano and directed the William Herbert Hunt Trust to guide the development of a deluxe neighborhood. North Texas’ first planned community was named Dallas North Estates to cash in on the more well-known city to the south. The Texas Pool is located at 901 Springbrook Drive in the Dallas North Estates community.
The community was advertised as a new community development for comfortable family living, boasting a “Texas size and Texas-shaped swimming pool for residents.” Perhaps the most special thing about the Pool is its unique and memorable State-of-Texas shape, which stands on its own as a brand or logo that is recognizable to people all over the world. As Manny Fernandez said in his September 2016 New York Times article, “the shape of Texas shapes Texas.”
The Texas Pool opened to the public on May 29th, 1961 – Memorial Day. A contest was held to guess the 168-thousand-gallon capacity awarded one winner a boat, trailer, and motor from Plano’s Lone Star Boat Co. As a promotional event, the annual Miss Plano contest was held at the Texas Pool that summer, where 17 local women competed for the crown. The pageant was hosted by the Plano Chamber of Commerce and introduced many local residents to the pool. The following year in 1962, the Texas Pool was sold by the Hunt Family Trust to the nonprofit Dallas North Community Club for $1.00, under the condition that it was operated as a recreational facility. In 1963 non-resident memberships, available to Plano families living outside Dallas North Estates, were sold for $30.00 per-household, which is equivalent to $240.00 in 2017.
There is a gap in the Texas Pool’s documented history from the mid-1960s to the 1990s. The pool was maintained and the original structures stayed intact throughout this time, but mentions of it in the local newspapers are scarce. The height of the pool’s success was in the 1990s, when it was so desirable that prospective pool members camped out overnight in hopes of securing one of the 325 family memberships. By the early 2000s, membership numbers had plummeted due to changes in social values and neighborhood demographics, and the pool was in danger of closing. Through the 2007 season the Texas Pool struggled to stay open, and was in danger of being sold to the City of Plano, who had plans to demolish it and add its land to the park.
It is at this point that a shift occurred in the trajectory of the Texas Pool’s fate, coinciding with newfound involvement from the Board of Directors and their Public Relations Director, Janet Moos. Moos brought a renewed desire to publicly promote the pool as a historically and culturally significant landmark in Plano. She rallied the board and sought new avenues of promotion, facilitated by new platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. With the economic downturn the country was experiencing, the board began advertising the Texas Pool as an affordable “staycation” alternative and a worthy family investment.
The Texas Pool Foundation, a 501(c)(3), was created in May of 2013 and the Dallas North Community Club, which had managed the pool since 1962, dissolved in December of 2016. All assets and operations of the pool were assumed by the Texas Pool Foundation in January of 2017, giving them greater control over the future of the pool. In 2017 the Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation requested funding from the City of Plano Heritage Commission to design and install a new wayside sign outside the Pool’s front entrance.
The Foundation’s mission is,
to preserve the Texas Pool as a landmark, to support the community through outreach and events, and to provide access to swim safety education, swim lessons, and swimming opportunities for the general public, underserved, underprivileged, and special needs populations of Collin and Dallas Counties.
Dallas North Estates Helped Plano Grow
The establishment of Dallas North Estates greatly influenced the development of Plano as a growing suburban city. In 1960 Plano was the “fastest-growing city in Collin County,” and the third in per capita building, with Dallas North Estates being credited as a major contributing factor. In a 1962 article in the Plano Daily Star-Courier, a representative of Hunt Enterprises talked about potential development of thousands of acres in Plano with hopes to “accommodate a population of 100,000 in the Plano area in the years to come,” and explained that “the Hunt interests already have invested much money, time, and effort in their development in this city.”
In 1960 the population of Plano was 3,695, but in the following decades the growth of the Dallas- Fort Worth Metroplex and the success of several large high-technology firms and other businesses began to make their influence felt on the local economy. By 1970 the population reached 17,872- an almost 385% increase in just 10 years. Plano welcomed newcomers and became one of the fast-growing cities in Texas and the United States. In 2010 the population of Plano topped 259,841. According to the Collin County Appraisal District, Dallas North Estates currently includes 2,158 properties across 15 subdivisions. Other Hunt properties in west Plano included Pitman Creek Estates, Pitman Creek North, Dallas North Research Park, Dallas North Regional Shopping Center and Commercial Area (Dallas North Shopping Center), Dallas North Industrial District, Creekwood Apartments, and Springbrook Apartments where the Michaels and Barnes & Noble shopping center now stands at the corner of Alma and 15th Street.
In Search of Historic Designation
The Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation, Inc., has been working with the Texas Pool Foundation and Janet Moos for over a year to write the nomination for the Texas Pool to be considered as a potential addition to the National Register of Historic Places. This has been a long process, with many drafts written and long wait times as our representative at the Texas Historical Commission reviews our nomination and prepares it for final submission. We are anxiously waiting to hear back on any further edits that may be necessary before the Texas Pool’s case is reviewed by the National Park Service. Wish us, and the Texas Pool, luck!
This ongoing series is authored by Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation Spring 2018 intern, Henry Elmendorf. Henry is in his final semester of his B.S. in Geography with a focus in resource & environmental studies from Texas State University.
Edited by Jessica Woods.