Hidden away in one of Coral Gables, Florida’s upscale neighborhoods is the largest freshwater pool in the United States. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Venetian Pool has provided for public swimming since its opening on December 13, 1924. Brainchild of Coral Gables developer, George Merrick, the Mediterranean Revival style pool and accompanying buildings occupy what used to be a rock pit. Created for the securing of limestone for Coral Gables homes, including George Merrick’s, and the construction of roadbeds, the quarry was an eyesore until Merrick’s artist uncle Denman Fink and architect Phineas Paist transformed it into a swimming pool for socialites and Coral Gables residents. The pool is drained nightly and refilled each morning with 820,000 gallons of spring water from artesian wells. To conserve precious water resources, the water is pumped down through the natural limestone substrate for filtration before being returned to pool the following day. No chlorine is ever used. Naturally, the spring water is always cool and refreshing.
Originally dubbed Venetian Casino, the social gathering place hosted parties, dances, water shows, tea musicales, and even alligator wrestling. Gondolas plied the water as movie stars performed, orchestras gave evening concerts on the drained pool floor, and elaborate water shows entertained guests. Gaming was never a part of the facility. Today the pool is used for swimming lessons, recreation, and private parties.
The sound of falling water and happy voices greet visitors as they walk toward the admission booth.
Two waterfalls refresh swimmers. This is the largest.
The smaller waterfall sits to the side of two coral rock grottoes. The caves extend 12 feet underground. Can you make them out on the far side of the pool?
A portico leads from one tower to the other. Beside it is the kiddie pool and a brick footbridge.
Note the small balcony, one of my favorite scenes. The ceiling of the tower still shows the meticulous detail used in the pool’s construction.
A sandy beach lies to one side of the pool.
A shadywalkway encircles the pool. Tropical foliage and flowers adorn the trees.
Here is a view of the pool including both towers and the bridge taken from near the grottoes. Note the island complete with palm trees at the end of the footbridge. Behind it is the two foot deep kiddie pool. The larger pool ranges in depth from four to eight feet.
This photo was taken from next to the large waterfall.
Behind the portico, a large patio supplied with tables, chairs, and umbrellas provides the perfect place for parties or just a casual lunch. A poolside cafe provides tasty food, drinks, and ice cream. Changing rooms and lockers await bathers.
A visit to this historic Miami Riviera delights visitors and residents alike.