Located within Zilker Park’s 358 acres is Barton Springs Pool, a three-acre, underground fed spring that has been referred to as the “Heart and Soul” and “Crown Jewel” of Austin. If you’ve been there, you understand why. In 1947, Barton Springs Bathhouse opened its doors for the first time, welcoming swimmers from all walks of life who sought fun, relaxation, and healing in the water beyond its walls.
This year marks 70 years that the historic Barton Springs Bathhouse has been open. On May 13, Austinites can celebrate this anniversary during the 70th Birthday Splash: Parade and Plunge. The event is hosted by Barton Springs Conservancy, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor, preserve, and enhance the Barton Springs experience through education and facility improvements.
I’ve always wanted to do a group plunge. But if you’re like me, you would never consider donning a bathing suit in January to jump into water at an event that has the word “polar” in its name. With temperatures expected to be in the high 80’s this Saturday, the water should feel pleasantly refreshing compared to the annual New Years Day Polar Bear Splash.
Barton Springs Parade and Plunge
At 9 a.m. on May 13, people of all ages will meet at the south gate of Barton Springs Pool for a parade through the pool’s gates and around the bathhouse, ending at the front gates to the pool deck. The march will rise to a crescendo with a community plunge into the 68-degree water.
Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes or other festive attire, and bring along props to add their own personal flair to the free and family-friendly event. After marching and plunging up an appetite, birthday cake will be served to party-goers.
Barton Springs Bathhouse isn’t the only 70th anniversary the conservancy is honoring. Lucy Baines Johnson, Honorary Chair, will also celebrate her 70th birthday this year. Johnson said in a statement about the celebration:
“For generations, our family, like countless others, has been celebrating the joy of summer, the delight of birthdays, and the thrill of just being alive at Austin’s iconic Barton Springs. This year, the Barton Springs Bathhouse turns 70, as I do. Come march in the parade to take care of the springs, so that our children and grandchildren can celebrate there for generations to come.”
Bathhouse History and Rehabilitation
Barton Springs Bathhouse was designed by architect Dan Driscoll; is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; and is a designated Historic Landmark by the City of Austin and State of Texas. The Barton Springs Conservancy is raising funds to preserve and rehabilitate the bathhouse for a modern audience, as called for in the 2008 Barton Springs Pool Master Plan and the updated recommendations from the Zilker Park Bathhouse Zone Feasibility Study.
In a release from the conservancy, the renovations were described in detail:
“All building alterations will aim to make the facility more modern and accessible, while respecting the historic architectural heritage of the original structure. Renovations include reopening the original men’s and women’s entrances at the central rotunda locations, restoring the women’s dressing area to be more expansive and light, modernizing and expanding bathroom facilities, and enhancing the educational components of the space. The rehabilitated Bathhouse will also be infused with enhanced environmental education and learning opportunities to complement and support the educational offerings in the Visitor Education Center.”
@theAustinot wants to know:
Have you ever done a plunge at Barton Springs Pool?