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Historic Reagan Bathhouse

Dixon Park District’s
Historic Reagan Bathhouse – Click here to rent this facility

The bathhouse, designed and built in 1922, is a one-story structure consisting of: a main building that served as a concession stand and a checking area for clothing baskets, the mens wing to the south, and the womens to the west, all with hip roofs. The architect of the bathhouse is unknown, although O. C. Simonds, the nationally renowned landscape designer had some responsibility for it. Holabird & Roche, to whom Simonds often turned for architectural services, did drawings for a bathhouse in 1921, but the structural scheme they drew then is not for the bathhouse that was built.

Native stone was used from the ground to the height of the serving counters of the concession building and for the foundations of the two wings; above that the walls were stuccoed on the exterior. All stone work was coursed and roughly squared. The bathhouse was a seasonal building and never heated. It was ventilated by raising the hinged board covers of the screened window openings. The steel-supported roof was covered originally with black-blue slate shingles; however, it was replaced in 1934 and now is asphalt shingled. The overhang is broad with exposed rafters.

The small stone house with gable roof behind the bathhouse is a former pump house, now used for storage. The sheet metal roof, found on several other small structures used for utilitarian purposes, is probably not original. For decades the park has been associated in the minds of a large portion of the local population with Ronald Reagan. The former President served as lifeguard at the beach for seven summers beginning at age 15 in 1926. Even then, Dutch was tremendously popular, and as lifeguard was a well-known personality on the beach at a time when it was a principal social gathering place in the region.

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