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The River Pool at Beacon and Its Civil Rights and Environmental Movement Origins

Research Open House 2023

Meta Brunzema,
Melina Lawrence
Dylan Almonte
Graduate Architecture and Urban Design Department
DEI Seed Grant

The research will include a compilation of historical facts about the racial segregation of recreational facilities in the US and a compilation of Pete Seeger’s statements about pool segregation in the South from unpublished notes by Meta Brunzema and new interviews with close associates of Pete Seeger. For example, Seeger often talked about how swimming pool segregation led to the frequent river drownings of Black children during the civil rights era. Seeger’s songs also include references to segregated swimming pools. The research team will summarize the history of water quality activism and how the River Pool project fits in. For example, the researchers will document and contextualize a previously unpublished letter by Seeger to then Governor George Pataki, which expresses his dream of river swimming not only in New York State but across America. The research will be interesting to many constituencies, including thousands of Pete Seeger fans in Beacon and around the world, historians of social/racial and environmental movements, social/environmental justice advocates as well as architects and designers interested in a unique and radical project. We believe that architectural and social/environmental journals will find this research interesting and relevant.

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