The Calhoun Beach Bathhouse was built on the north shore of what is now Bde Maka Ska in 1912. Solid concrete. The beach here was better than the rest of the shore because finely granulated sand from the bottom of the lake was hauled up and deposited by the bathhouse.
More than 116,000 citizens used the facility its first year. The original bathhouse had one interesting characteristic: no roof. You might think that mattered little, since a rainy day wouldn’t have many bathers. True. But it also meant that people living on the upper floors of the Calhoun Beach Club, which was built across the street years later, could get out the binoculars and get an eyeful. A 1950 Star newspaper article included pictures of the open air “Peek-a-Boo Views,” and said the bathhouse was slated for demolition.
But a 1955 story notes that the 1912 bathhouse still stood, and would soon be reduced in size. (The article waggishly blamed bikinis — smaller suits, smaller changing rooms!) The truncated structure endured the ’60s, ’70s, and was still hunkered on the beach in a 1983 aerial photo, but was gone in a 1993 flyover picture.
The smell of dank, wet concrete probably disappeared a few years later.