Medgar Evers Pool

500 23rd Avenue

Medgar Evers Pool entrance, Seattle, August 5, 2013, Photo by Laurel Mercury, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (178917)
Medgar Evers Pool sign, Seattle, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Medgar Evers Pool exterior, Seattle, August 16, 2015, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (178919)
Medgar Evers Pool interior, Seattle, September 18, 2015, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (178920)
Medgar Evers Memorial Pool interior, Seattle, 1969, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (31089)
Medgar Evers Memorial Pool exterior, Seattle, 1969, Photo by John M. Moorse, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (31088)
Myrlie Evers-Williams talking with reception attendees, Seattle, April 25, 1970, Courtesy MOHAI (1986.5.52139.1)
Medgar Evers, Courtesy US Library of Congress (97516155)

500 23rd Avenue

Built as part of the Model Cities program in 1969, Medgar Evers Pool opened to the public in 1970. The Model Cities program aimed to expand access to health, educational, economic, and recreational services and opportunities to Central District residents. The building was designed in the brutalist style by architect John M. Morse of Kirk, Wallace & McKinley. The city contracted an all-white workforce to construct the building until Black-led union organizers demanded that Black contractors be hired.

The building was named for Medgar Evers, the famed civil rights leader who was murdered in Jackson, Mississippi, just six years before the pool’s construction. The original mural was completed in 1972 by Curtis and Royal Alley-Barnes, artists and activists from the Central District. It was titled “Omowale,” usually translated from the Yoruba language as “The Child Returns Home.” The mural began deteriorating several years later and there was not enough public support for its restoration. Although few remnants of the original mural remain, the Seattle Parks Department partnered with Coyote Central, a youth arts program, to create and install the current mural in 1998-1999.

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