Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.

Opinion: Property owners used creativity to enjoy swimming

Before the development of neighborhoods and country clubs with swimming pools as an amenity, people had to use some ingenuity to have a place to swim. Often swimming was done in a nearby creek or lake. Sometimes a lake or pond was dug on the property.

Through the 1940s and 1950s the only people with pools in the areas north of Atlanta were owners of summer homes or those who worked in the city but decided they wanted to experience living in the country.

The William Wardlaw summer home, built in the 1930s, had a pool and changing rooms for guests. The home was on Mount Vernon Road in today’s Dunwoody Club Forest subdivision.

Lois Pattillo Bannister had a pool constructed near her home at the corner of Chamblee Dunwoody and Vermack roads. That home is known today as Donaldson-Bannister Farm. Stone from a nearby quarry was placed around the creek near the bridge at Vermack Road to form a swimming pool. She had changing rooms, a bath house and picnic tables built on the banks of the creek. Vermack Swim and Tennis is located on the property where Bannister built her creek pool.

Owners of the farm after Bannister continued to use and enjoy the pool. Hank and Meredith Ogden Conklin swam there while living at the farm with their parents, Henry and Leila Harris Ogden, between 1946 and 1956. 


Hank Ogden and sister Meredith swim in the pool created along Vermack Creek in this photo from 1955.

Bonnie Smith Nichols lived on the farm between 1956 and 1974 with her parents Frank and Hortense Smith and brother Frank. They also swam in the pool along the creek.

When Linda and David Chesnut owned the farm, the creek was no longer part of the property. They built a swimming pool on the north side of the home.

Longtime Dunwoody residents and neighbors Carlton Renfroe, Ann Renfroe, Keller Henderson Barron and Jane Autry all recalled swimming with various owners of Vermack Creek pool. Renfroe, who remembered the closest public pool was at Chastain Park, also swam at the Lawson General Hospital pool where his father worked.

The Nunnally home, in what is now River Oaks subdivision, had a metal pool next to the home for friends and family to enjoy.

Albert Martin, a descendant of the Goodwin family, recalled swimming at Silver Lake in Brookhaven. He lived in the Solomon Goodwin home for several years, previously located on Peachtree Road.

The Carroll McGaughey family had a pool at their home on Ridgeview Drive. They shared their home and pool with soldiers of World War II recovering at Veteran’s Hospital #48 in Brookhaven and Lawson General Hospital. (The Atlanta Constitution, August 16, 1946, “Veterans Feted by Elks Group”)

The Ramseys dug a lake on their property located behind the Dunwoody School. Carlton Renfroe and Keller Henderson Barron occasionally joined the Ramsey children and swam in the family lake.

Sally O’Keeffe Gurley Batson visited her grandmother Clara Cassidy’s summer house along Happy Hollow Road, known today as the Cassidy Lamb Home. The property had a creek pool, but Sally and the other children preferred their Uncle George Harvey Ferguson’s pool and slide across Happy Hollow.

Email Valerie at or visit her website at

Past Tense

Award-winning author Valerie Biggerstaff is a longtime columnist for Appen Media and the Dunwoody Crier. She lives in Sandy Springs.