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The 72-year-old Barton Springs bathhouse is about to get its first renovation

Moody Foundation donates $2.1 million, conservancy meets goal for major rehab of historic building

Art Moderne Streamliner style rotunda on one-story masonry building
The Barton Springs bathhouse was built in 1947
Courtesy Barton Springs Conservancy

Plans to rehabilitate and preserve the historic bathhouse at Barton Springs Pool can move forward thanks to a $2.1 million donation from the Moody Foundation donation, Barton Springs Conservancy announced recently. Emma Lindrose-Siegel, its executive director, said the conservancy has now met its fundraising goal for the project, and can begin “efforts to rehabilitate the [building] to its original splendor, restore the rotunda and dressing areas, and make the facilities usable for modern needs.”

Built in 1947, the bathhouse was designed by architect Dan Driscoll and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as well as being state historic landmark. A one-story, masonry building with Streamline Moderne (aka “ocean-liner-style”) influences, it has been modified very little since it was constructed; the only substantial change is that an addition was made to corner of the women’s locker room to provide a new space for ticket sales.

The rehabilitation will respect the “historic architectural heritage of the original structure, as called for by the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan and the Zilker Park Bathhouse Zone Feasibility Study,” according to a conservancy statement. The city parks and recreation department created the plan, which includes reopening the original men’s and women’s entrances at the central rotunda, restoring the women’s dressing area to allow more light and create more usable space, and enhancing the building’s education-related areas. Limbacher and Godfrey Architects will head up the project’s design.

The conservancy began raising funds for the renovation in 2016, when it launched its “For the Love of the Springs” campaign, with Luci Baines Johnson (daughter of Lyndon and Ladybird) serving as honorary campaign chair. “Barton Springs is one of those places that truly defines Austin, and for generations people have been drawn to it as a place of reflection, rejuvenation, and joy,” said Johnson.

With the Moody gift, the nonprofit organization has secured its goal of $8 million in public and private funds for the facility rehabilitation, enabling the project to move forward. Public funding includes a city bond approved by voters in 2012 and $3 million in hotel occupancy taxes.

The conservancy, which spearheaded the bathhouse fundraising initiative, has been conducting similar drives for projects related to the beloved, spring-fed public pool since 2014 and continues to raise funds for future projects as well as for continuing environmental education at and about the springs.


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