Community Wants Landmark Restored - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/20/05

Community Wants Landmark Restored

A recent "Action Report" about an eyesore in North Gulfport has helped create a passion about restoring a once-thriving community landmark.

It's a fascinating history that dates back to the Mennonites who visited the area during World War Two. WLOX News talked with a charter member of the Good Deeds Association who shared the story behind this swimming pool and adjoining library.

The swimming pool that's now in such disrepair was the "dream project" of a visiting Mennonite missionary.

"This is Ethel Krehbiel, right here," said Gaynette Flowers-Pugh, pointing to a small black and white picture in a history book.

Ethel Krehbiel left a lasting impression on this community.

"She had more influence with the North Gulfport children than some of their parents had," said Flowers-Pugh.

The sorry condition of the community pool disappoints Ethel Krehbiel's old friend.

"This pool is in her honor. And it's a pure disgrace that it's like it is," Flowers-Pugh admitted.

"This is Amos Frye Junior. That's my brother in law, Jack Flowers," said the 89-year-old, as she looked at a 1950s photograph of the Good Deeds Association board.

That group helped raise the money for the pool project in memory of Ethel Krehbiel, who died in a car accident in 1956. She remembers the crowd at the swimming pool dedication in the summer of '65.

"I remember the pool. We used to come and jump in the pool all the time," said John Sims.

He's among the volunteers who'd like to see the pool restored and library re-opened.

"Try to help it get restored and be functional again. Which I think would be a great thing. To have the children something positive to do," said Sims.

Ms. Flowers-Pugh would like to see the library and pool become the kind of positive influence they meant to this community, not so many years ago.

"Cause it gave us great hope. It was always a place of inclusion, a place of warmth and one that always had cookies and punch," said Ella Holmes-Hines, who represents Ward 3 on the Gulfport City Council.

There's no formal plan yet for restoring the pool and reopening the library. Holmes-Hines told WLOX News she'd like to "stir the passion" in the community and create interest in the project.

Anyone who'd like to help with ideas or donations of money or materials can phone the city councilwoman at (228) 868-5848.

By Steve Phillips

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