Several Diakon retirement communities include aquatic programs, both on and off campus. But pools are nothing new to the organization. In fact, both of Diakon’s historic children’s homes had swimming pools—the result of donors’ commitment to the organizations.
The first pool—in actuality a “bathing pond”—was constructed in 1911 in the basement of Old Main at The Lutheran Home at Topton (though there had been a small ice-skating rink nearby even earlier). Partly funded by a contribution from St. John’s German Lutheran Church in Reading, the bathing pool was heated by steam pipes connected to the home’s boiler.
An outdoor 50-foot wading pool was built five years later, becoming a popular summer gathering place for the home’s younger children. A larger pond was created after part of the original dam washed away in 1919. In winter, the pond provided ice for harvesting and storage for summer use.
A formal outdoor swimming pool was built at Topton in 1934, a gift of the former Reading Conference Luther League.
Children at the Tressler Orphans Home in Loysville had contented themselves for years by swimming, supervised, in two nearby creeks’ “swimming holes.” In the 1940s, however, the home’s administration and older youths began excavations for an on-campus pond.
Those early efforts came to fruition by 1948 when the home, with financing from alumni gifts and a special Christmas campaign, dedicated a 450,000-gallon swimming pool as part of the home’s new Alumni Memorial Park.
A sign of the times: The project was approved by the American Commission for Living War Memorials.