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July-12-11 Kahn Bath House pavilions and pool opens to public
MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Willmot
TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes and officials from Ewing Township gathered today for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the 2011 summer pool season and the opening of the restored Bath House pavilions at the Louis I. Kahn Bath House and Day Camp Pavilion located at the Ewing Senior and Community Center.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of the Bath House and pool and the preservation of a site that has reemerged after nearly being lost to neglect. The Bath House, Day Camp, and pool were designed by Louis I. Kahn (1901–1974), one of the 20th century’s most influential architects.
“A lot of folks said this site was beyond redemption,” Hughes said, “but through cooperation with the freeholders and Ewing Township, we were able to complete this rehabilitation of a work of one of the great architects known throughout the world.”
Also in attendance at the event were Mercer County freeholders Anthony Carabelli, Pat Colavita, Andrew Koontz, and Samuel Frisby; Ewing Township Mayor Bert Steinmann and Ewing Councilman Kevin Baxter; Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello; and project architect Michael Mills of Mills and Schnoering Architects.
The Ewing Senior and Community Center is located on Lower Ferry Road at the site of the former Jewish Community Center. After several years of planning for the preservation of the buildings and landscape, restoration of the Bath House and Day Camp and construction of a new snack bar and plaza began in early 2010. Ewing began operating the summer day camp in 2008. The reconstructed Day Camp Pavilions were opened to summer campers in 2010 and the Bath House was reopened for the 2011 summer season after being closed for construction during the summer of 2010. Pool upgrades began in winter 2011 and were completed in early July 2011.
“Six or seven years ago when the Jewish Community Center decided to find another location, a great opportunity arose for Ewing Township and Mercer County to create a new community center,” said Ewing Mayor Bert Steinmann. “This is an evolving work of art that has turned out to be the jewel of Ewing Township at the present time.”
Prior to the county acquisition, the campus was once on Preservation New Jersey’s “10 Most Endangered” list. This year, the restoration was recognized by the NJ State Historic Preservation Office with a 2011 Historic Preservation Award.
In 1984, the Bath House and Day Camp were placed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places, and, in 2007, Mercer County purchased the property at a cost of $8.1 million and transferred it to Ewing Township for use as a senior and community center. The Bath House and pool opened in 1955 for the Jewish Community Center of the Delaware Valley and the Day Camp followed shortly thereafter.
Over the past several years, over 500 visitors from around the world have toured the site.
The Bath House and Pavilions served as the entrance and changing area for an outdoor swimming pool. The project consists of four concrete block structures containing changing rooms that surround an open atrium, each topped by a large wood-framed pyramidal roof. Kahn designed them as part of a larger plan, which was never executed.
The Bath House is widely regarded as a turning point in Kahn’s career. Kahn himself said that the project unleashed “a generative force which is recognizable in every building which I have done since.”
Mills and Schnoering Architects are currently under contract with Mercer County to design, prepare construction documents, and provide construction administration for new landscaping which comprises a new parking lot and community green sympathetic to Kahn’s original design for the campus. Construction is expected to begin fall 2011.
For more information about pool hours and costs for Ewing residents and non-residents, please visit the Ewing Township website at http://ewingnj.org/wordpress/?page_id=942.