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Swimming Pool and Loggia

Mouse over the image to see the transformation of the Swimming Pool and Loggia.

Swimming Pool and Loggia, facing Southeast (detail)Men and dog sitting by the Swimming Pool, 1930–1935 (detail)

When Robert Bliss purchased “The Oaks” from the Blounts in 1920, the land was a working farm. The area immediately north of the Orangery served as a stable yard. The stable yard ended where the ground sharply sloped away from the house, dropping over forty feet. Into this hillside, the Blounts built a “bank barn” with a high northern wall and a low, overhanging loft to the south with a driveway passing beneath. The area directly behind the barn, on its northern side, was the manure pit.

The Blisses chose this unlikely hillside as the location for their bathhouse and pool. The architect Frederick Brooke planned and built a bathhouse on the site of the barn, and the manure pit was replaced with a pool. In 1923, the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White took Brooke’s place, and they collaborated with Beatrix Farrand to renovate the bathhouse and integrate the pool area with the rest of the garden. Farrand focused on creating a space with retaining walls that disguised the steep and variable grades of the land, and she added classical, European-influenced elements in keeping with the overall garden concept. The majority of changes to the pool area were carried out between 1926 and 1935. The pool and bathhouse, which became the loggia, took on a unique blend of distinctly Italian and French design elements.

Read more about the history of the Swimming Pool and view drawings and historic photographs in the Dumbarton Oaks Garden Archives.

 

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