top of page



Benjamin F. McAdoo, Jr., Washington State's first registered Black architect has had his legacy honored with a historic designation of the Queen Anne pool he designed, constructed in Seattle in 1977. The building sits on 13,300 square feet at West Crockett and West Howe Streets, atop Queen Anne Hill, and has functioned as a public swimming pool for the past 4+ decades.

There is some irony in this designation given that McAdoo's design philosophy leaned heavily toward the concept that modern design should be accessible to everyone, not just a privileged few, as was noted in the Crosscut Black Arts Legacies profile on McAdoo, and the history of denied access to public pools by Black people in America. In the late 19th century and through the early 20th century, thousands of public pools were built in cities across America. According to Jeff Wiltse, author of Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America, statistics by 2008 showed that 58% of Black children could not swim, which was double the rate of White children. These statistics are undeniably due to segregation standards at public swimming pools and contributed to increased incidents of Black children drowning when attempting to swim in open waters.

A child jumps into the Queen Anne Pool, whose interior paneling invokes mid-century modern architecture.

The area surrounding the Queen Anne Pool is flooded with new multi-family structures, not unlike many areas in cities across the country experiencing a boom of housing development. The potential for a building of such age to be demolished in favor of either new housing or a newer, sleeker design, is great. This historic designation is significant to the maintenance of an architectural and cultural legacy.

McAdoo designed numerous structures including both single-family and multi-family homes, and public buildings, including the University of Washington Ethnic Cultural Center, which has since been remodeled. McAdoo also participated in the design of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He is credited for the 1955 remodel design of Seattle's oldest Black church, the First African Methodist Church, (First AME), and for a time led the Seattle Chapter of the NAACP after a failed run for a seat on the State Legislature.

A May 15, 2024 post on X (formerly Twitter), announced a unanimous vote for the historic designation of the Benjamin F. McAdoo, Jr., designed Queen Anne Pool!


bottom of page