Willow Plunge: The Place Where Williamson County Used to Spend Its Summers

willow plunge

Willow Plunge was where Middle Tennessee went to swim, sun, golf and listen to music until the 1960s

With news that Soar Outdoor Adventure is opening a mini-golf course any day now, and pools just opened, it seems like the perfect time to remember Willow Plunge.

From the 1920s until the 1960s, Willow Plunge meant summer, fun, swimming and recreation to generations of Middle Tennessee residents.

Located at the corner of Lewisburg Pike and Carnton Lane, Willow Plunge held not just the largest outdoor concrete swimming pool in the south, but tennis courts, a 9-hole golf course, a mini-golf course, a football field, aviation field and lake.

It was built by Claiborne Kinnard in 1924 on what was his property and what is now the Heath Place subdivision. It would become the go-to summer spot for all of Middle Tennessee for more than 40 years.

The pool, which held 750,000 gallons of water– nearly 100,000 more than an Olympic size pool– was originally one big space but in 1927 divided into two, creating a kiddie pool on one side.

The Review-Appeal wrote this about its opening:

“As far as is known, Franklin will have one of the largest pools in the South; water is conveyed in pipes 1,023 feet from a pure spring of crystal water; electric lights have been installed; through four-inch pipes 25,000 gallons of water is taken in every 24 hours, and the out-flow is at the same rate; 600 feet of seating space has been provided for spectators; parking space for cars and picnic grounds have been laid off; every precaution has been taken for safety; guards will always be on hand at swimming hours.”

Over the years, the Kinnards added features. By 1932 when Willow Plunge was named one of the best pools in the United States, according to the Williamson County Historical Society, visitors could enjoy its tennis court, the 9-hole golf course and the mini-golf course.

The Plunge also had dressing rooms, a concession stand, a pinball and jukebox room, a coffee shop and a pavilion, where local bands would play. In the ’60s, some well-known musicians, or musicians who would become well known, also played there.

There were the Allman Joys, which in an early version of the now world-known band, featured Greg and Duance Allman, The Exotics, and The Fairlanes all also played the pavilion.

The pool closed in 1967 and the land was sold. But today the legacy lives on at Berry Farms.

The big mixed-use community decided to name its pool and pool house The Plunge after Willow Plunge. 

Where Willow Plunge was located:

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. The article does not mention that black people and Jews were not allowed entrance there. I’ve lived in Franklin since 1961 and remember the segregation here, such as the balcony at Franklin Theatre that was for blacks only. This is a sad period in our history, but it should be mentioned that not everybody in Franklin was allowed to swim at Willow Plunge.

    I swam at The Plunge until l was about 10, when the place closed. In 1987 l took many pictures of what remained there, including remnants of the sandwich shack and the pools themselves. I even found the remains of the high-dive platform, which is featured in four of the above photographs.

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