South Bend’s Engman Natatorium

The Engman Natatorium, March 23, 2006

Almost 33 years ago, workers drained the pool and locked the doors at South Bend’s Engman Natatorium. South Bend’s Engman Natatorium was built in the 1100 block of West Washington Street on land donated by a local businessman. The Nat dispensed towels and locker keys in a grand Neoclassical space of columns and white tile. Gleaming walkways led from the locker rooms to foot baths of cold water that swimmers were required to use before jumping into the indoor pool. Large windows of glass brick let in diffused natural light. The Nat was extremely popular at the start of its career, with 6,000 people per month jumping in. By 1970, those numbers had dwindled to just 1,000 per month—a fate shared by many community pools hurt by competition from YMCAs, high school aquatic centers, and water theme parks. In 1978, the Nat’s doors closed and it sat unheated and unoccupied, its roof leaking, its masonry walls beginning to bow. 2006 saw the demolition of the swimming pool part of the building.


South Bend Natatorium, March 23, 2006. As you can see, the pool section of the building has been demolished. Left. Looking at the west wall of the former Natatorium. Right: South wall of the remaining building.


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