Construction on the Plunge nearly finished

Photos by Ian A. Stewart

Almost two years after workers broke ground on an ambitious renovation effort at the 84-year-old Richmond Municipal Natatorium, better known as The Plunge, the giant Point Richmond swimming pool is nearly finished.

Workers were mostly relegated to touch-up work Thursday, as the pool prepares for its August 14 grand opening. The interior of the building is nearly complete, with only a few fixes left to go. The pool is filled with 320,000 gallons of water, and the giant mural that covers the western wall appears complete. Save for some landscaping work that is yet to be done in the pool’s front yard, the construction appears to be a success.

“It’s just little stuff now,” lead architect Todd Jersey said of the ongoing work. “We’re putting in the floors, installing the heaters. Then it’s just a lot of clean-up.”

Opening Day for the renovated pool is set for August 14, when members of the trust that helped fundraise to pay for the construction work will give tours of the building and, for the first time since 2001, let folks take a dip in the 9,600-square-foot pool. “We’re starting to see, ‘Oh wow, it’s really coming together,'” Jersey said.

The Plunge, originally opened in 1926, was the largest indoor swimming pool in the state until it was closed in 2001 because of its deteriorating condition. Voters in Richmond originally turned down a ballot measure that would have paid for its reconstruction, but ultimately the city was able to front the majority of the $7.5 million bill through redevelopment funds and small donations.

The renovation has largely remained true to the pool’s historic design – the row of windows above the second-story observation deck is original, as is much of the tile on the mushroom-shaped fountain that has been moved from inside the pool to outside the building. Workers installed a raised “doghouse”-style roof above the pool that more closely resembles the original and are getting ready to hoist a giant sign above the building in the style of the original which read “Municipal Natatorium.”

For more information about the Plunge’s grand opening, visit www.richmondplunge.org.

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