Municipal Swimming Pool – Decorah IA


“The Decorah Municipal Swimming Pool building design is an architectural specimen of an advanced contemporary style of its day.

It is a vision of both the Art Moderne and the International styles of architecture, as designed by Edward Novak, who worked at the well-known Charles Altfillisch architectural firm in Decorah…

The construction of the pool building has additional importance in local history. Constructing the Decorah Swimming Pool was a partnership project between the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the city of Decorah during the Great Depression. Land Deed Record No. 179 from Winneshiek County shows the three lots where the pool building now stands were sold by Luther College to the city of Decorah Sept. 1, 1935 for $600. Carlson Construction acted as the supervisor for the project, and local, unemployed men were hired as laborers…

Many municipal pools were built in Iowa using PWA (Emergency Administration of Public Works) funds, including the Decorah Municipal Pool [PWA non-federal project #W1147]…

PWA funds were to be matched locally. In some cases, however, there were few local resources, which usually meant that the labor on the project would be done by the Works Projects Administration (WPA) workers.

That was apparently the situation with Decorah’s pool which, besides being a PWA project, was unquestionably built with WPA labor, as the plaque on the building clearly shows and as described in contemporary news stories…

Oskaloosa’s municipal swimming pool recently was restored and, together with other structures built by the WPA in Edmundson Park in the Rustic Style, is on the National Register of Historic Places. (Historic District Registry #83000389).”

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Location Info

701 College Drive
Decorah, IA 52101

Coordinates: 43.313976686202636, -91.80118101006468

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