A Day at the Beach, and Bathhouse
As summer approaches, my thoughts quickly turn to Lake Acworth and all the stellar outdoor activities it offers to visitors and residents alike. Acworth’s 325-acre lake is unique because only vessels with 5 horsepower electric motors are allowed, making the lake the perfect place for water activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing and swimming. The lake and surrounding environs offer a white sandy beach, Patriots Point, the playground at Cauble Park and picnic pavilions. Miles of walking trails and boardwalks connect Lake Acworth to the surrounding neighborhoods.
However, Lake Acworth has not always been here. It all started with the U.S. Flood Control Act of 1941 for the purpose of creating Allatoona Dam on the Etowah River with flood control and power as its objectives. Construction began in 1946, and was delayed until World War II ended. By December 1949, the reservoir, which would become Lake Allatoona, began to fill with, the dam and the power station operational by 1950.
But Acworth was located at the lower end of the lake, resulting in mudflats and water levels that fluctuate dramatically with the season. Local politicians and civic leaders began looking for a solution. A delegation led by George Huie McMillan went to Washington, D.C., and successfully lobbied for a second, little dam to give Acworth year-round recreational water. McMillan was joined by Mayor Hilton Nichols, town matriarch Vera Awtrey, and Fred Kienel with Harold Willingham, attorney and local politician.
One year after the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers completed Allatoona Lake, Mayor Nichols closed the floodgates on the Lake Acworth dam under Highway 92, thereby creating Lake Acworth. City leaders hoped Lake Acworth, a sub-impoundment of Lake Allatoona, would reduce the ill effects of seasonal mudflats and boost the city’s economy.
Acworth had its lake, but the recreation potential was limited without facilities. Meanwhile, Gov. Herman Talmadge, who was running for re-election, needed support from Acworth residents. When he asked city leaders what would entice the town to support him, they said the city needed $25,000 to create a beach and bathhouse for Lake Acworth. When Talmadge won the election, Acworthians reminded him of his promise to fund beach facilities, but locals upped the ante to $100,000 earmarked in the budget for Acworth.
Soon, Acworth adopted a new moniker – The Lake City. With the emphasis now on Lake Acworth, a subtle shift began in the culture of the town. For 110 years, the city had identified with agrarian society and farmers, and that was changing.
Bothwell and Nash, a Marietta architectural firm, was chosen by Acworth’s Lake Authority to build a large rustic beach house. The company designed a modern building with a low-pitched roof and a broad porch supported by a colonnade, complete with changing rooms, bathrooms and a concession area. The building cost $40,000 to build and locals spent the remaining $60,000 on a crescent shaped beach, boat ramp and picnic tables.
In August 1953, the Lake Acworth Beach and Bathhouse was formally dedicated, as Gov. Talmadge spoke to a crowd of 600 at the event. Acworth’s sandy beach became a regional attraction in the 1950s. It’s amenities featured a sliding board, train rides, miniature golf and horseback rides. The fresh lake water offered swimming, boating and water skiing.
By the early 1960s, a social hall was added with a breezeway that served the community as municipal courts, polling places and city gatherings. Today the Lake Acworth Beach House is available to rent through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
– Abbie Parks, an Acworth resident, co-authored pictorial essays on regional history and collaborated on a book celebrating Acworth’s 150th birthday that featured anecdotal history and family photographs.