With the May demolition of the historic Livingston County Jail, a relic from postbellum America, the closed-but-still-standing Humiston Pool became the oldest and most impressive work of decommissioned architecture in Pontiac.

    It appears, however, that its reign on that front will be short lived. On Tuesday, the Daily Leader received a legal notice from the City of Pontiac requesting sealed proposals for the “Demolition of Camp-Humiston Pool,” a quiet if indelicate heralding of the end of one of the city’s most revered structures.

    Camp-Humiston Memorial Swimming Pool, better known by the truncated Humiston Pool, opened in the summer of 1925. It was the first of many beneficent projects undertaken by the Humiston Trust, founded by Harriet Humiston. The pool’s longer name reflects the contributions Humiston and her husband, Bennett, as well as Humiston’s father, Apollos Camp. The architect, Wesley Bintz, designed less than a dozen others like it.

    The pool’s construction had a price tag of $49,250.93 — for comparison’s sake, the yearly operational costs totaled approximately $40,000 by the time of its final summer of 2001. By 2002, the city began seriously exploring options regarding the Humiston Pool, nearing 80 years of age and increasingly deteriorating.

    Humiston Pool did not open in 2002 due partly to the sudden collapse of a concrete bench, which sparked fears amongst then Mayor Mike Ingles and the city’s aldermen over the pool’s overall structural integrity.

    In April of 2003, representatives from a company that specialized in pool mechanics were hired by the city to do a technical study on Pontiac’s favorite swimming hole. Depending on the outcome of the study, the city council would have a clearer vision on what the future held for Humiston Pool and how much of the city’s coffers would need to be drained to fix it.

    But upon learning from the study that repairs could cost as much as $2 million, the discourse of elected officials veered toward destruction. By 2015, preliminary talks about the demolition of Humiston Pool were underway, with plans to preserve the facade as a sentimental monument to the pool’s significance to Pontiac history. Simultaneously, there were also city discussions about a possible replacement of the Humiston Pool. Neither of those trains of thought had materialized until Tuesday.

    On the demolition announcement, Pontiac Historical Society President Bob Sear acknowledged that it must have been a difficult choice to destroy the pool, but despite “mixed feelings,” he believed it was the right decision.

    “It was just a great spot to go swimming in the summertime,” he said. “But there’s no way to repair it now — it’s beyond that except saving the front of it, maybe just to preserve the memory of what it was like …

    When you look at things like this, you always have mixed feelings, because you’d like to save it, but it’s just very, very cost prohibitive to even think about that, so what do you do with it? It’s been just sitting there for such a long time, it’s almost an eyesore now.”

    Dave Sullivan, another member of the Historical Society, called it a “sad day” and expressed some measure of disappointment with the decision, especially given that other pools of Humiston’s type around the country had been repurposed without destruction. But he, too, trusted that the city had made the best decision.

    “I don’t know what reasonable alternative there is,” he said. “I also don’t know that the council didn’t explore some other options … The cost estimates the city came up with to do the upgrades were outrageous, so it is what it is. I’m sure there’s people on the council that looked at other options.”

    Like many others in town, Sullivan has a sentimental attachment to the pool with regard to his younger years. He fondly recalled taking bus trips to Pontiac from his native Odell on Saturday mornings for one year in the early 1950s for swimming lessons. The greatest part, according to Sullivan, was getting baked goods from Pfaff’s Donuts — one legacy establishment that he was grateful was still in existence.

    “It was an awesome summer,” he fondly recalled.

    Neither Mayor Bob Russell nor City Administrator Bob Karls could be reached for comment.