To the editor:
We may lose an irreplaceable part of Weirton's history. The Weirton Board of Parks and Recreation voted to demolish the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool.
According to the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office, the pool was completed in 1934 by civil engineer Wesley Bintz of the Bintz Swimming Pool Co. of Lansing, Mich. The pool was the realization of a fund left by E.T. Weir's brother David after his death in 1929. Built by Weirton Steel workers, some looking for work during the Depression, this pool was a gift on behalf of the Weir family and employees of the Weirton Steel Co. to the community. The entrance was built in 1941 as part of a project of the Works Progress Administration.
In 1993, the park and pool were both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In Hancock County there are 12 sites that are listed, and five are in Weirton. According to the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office, if the pool is demolished, the park will not be listed on the register and therefore not be eligible for the many state and federal grants and tax incentives that are available for historic sites. The pool is listed as a contributing structure for the historic aesthetic of the park, and when it is demolished the park will no longer be registered as historic.
Also according to the West Virginia Department of Culture and History's, Review and Compliance Program, "When a project requires a government license or permit or makes use of government money, federal and state laws require that the project be sent to the SHPO for review. Once submitted, the SHPO staff determines how that project will affect West Virginia's historic resources and provides comments to the government agency." Although the preservation office cannot stop demolition, it can let the government know that this demolition could adversely affect the historic, cultural and social aspect of the area.
This pool is very historic, not just to the members of our community whose memories as well as those of our parents and grandparents are connected there, but also for the architectural value this pool brings to our community as one of only 135 pools designed by Bintz in his career and one of six left standing in the country. The city has requested ideas for the adaptive reuse of this pool, but grants and incentives are available to reuse the pool as something else or to keep the building safe until a reuse could be obtained.
Losing this building will not only end the 78 years of Weirton history that is connected with this place, but it will destroy a place of national, architectural and historical significance. Over the years, we have lost many memorable sites in our city, but we can still do something to save our pool. Let it not become a place of mere memory but an active site where history finds a place in Weirton's tomorrow.
Paul J. Zuros