Come on deck for our Pool Renovation Project!

Make a Donation 


The Barber National Institute Pool and Natatorium has been a valued community resource since opening on the Erie campus in 1979. Thousands of area children and adults have learned to swim in the pool, as well as enjoyed exercise classes, family swim sessions and other activities.

The pool has also provided invaluable therapeutic benefits and recreational enjoyment for students and adults at the Barber National Institute. Now, after more than 40 years of use, a Pool Renovation Project will fund needed updates to the pool and locker room facilities.


About Our Pool

When it was constructed more than 40 years ago, the Barber National Institute pool was one of the first in the nation to have a moveable floor that could be raised and lowered to meet varying needs. The 20’ x 20’ section of the floor can be raised to deck level so that wheelchairs can be moved onto the pool floor and then lowered into up to 4 ½ feet of water. The feature ensures the safe entry and exit into the pool for persons with physical disabilities, preventing staff injuries from lifting or the use of complex lift mechanisms.

The moveable floor is also beneficial for swim lessons for toddlers as the pool can be set at shallow depths. The average pool temperature is kept between 88 – 90 degrees for comfort and therapeutic effects. Waterproof chairs are available to assist patrons with disabilities enter the water and shower facilities with ease. A variety of equipment and flotation devices are also available to enhance the enjoyment of swimming for all ages.


Our Offerings

The pool is used by families and persons throughout the region and offers single and family memberships, along with a variety of classes, including:

  • Learn-to-swim lessons with American Red Cross certified instructors. The perfect way to learn about swimming and water safety for all ages.
  • Arthritis Foundation Aquatics Exercise Program. An instructor certified by the Arthritis Foundation leads exercises that benefit all patrons, including those experiencing arthritis pain and mobility challenges.
  • Adult Open Exercise with a perfect opportunity to swim – without the kids!
  • Family Swim – Fun times for families to enjoy the pool together.

Renovation Project

With the exception of minor repairs and updates that have occurred over the years, the structure and equipment are all original. Due to wear and tear of nearly daily use over the past 40+ year, the pool is in need of its first major renovation. This project will upgrade the pool infrastructure with more modern components that will reduce maintenance and make the facility more welcoming and useful for the wide population that uses it, both children and adults at the Barber National Institute and families and individuals across the community. Plans include the following additions and updates:

Lobby/Entry Way

  • Creation of a separate comfortable area for parents/siblings to wait during classes
  • Creation of two family changing areas and handicap accessible showers for parents/caregivers to assist children as well as adults who need support
  • Renovation of administrative/office space


  • Retiling of walls and pool deck
  • Installation of state-of-the-art filtration system that will enhance pool water quality while reducing electric power usage and costs
  • Replacement of underground pipes that have deteriorated and cause water leakage. The substructure underneath the pool has been damaged by leaking water and also requires replacement.
  • Updating hydraulic system that enables the raising and lowering pool floor
  • Resurfacing of pool walls
  • Installation of comfortable seating with storage around pool perimeter for parents, teachers and other visitors

Locker Rooms

  • Construction of two distinct private handicap accessible shower areas, as well as three regular shower areas, in both the men and women’s locker rooms
  • Addition of changing tables and new lockers
  • Installation of waterproof carpet tiles to reduce the risk of slipping on wet tiles
  • three regular showers

Architects Rendering


How to Support the Project

Individuals and businesses have many opportunities to become involved in making the pool renovation a reality, with a range of options.

  • Rights for naming of aspects of the building and associated structures:
    • Natatorium complex
    • Pool
    • Lobby/visitor area
    • Family changing room and shower
    • Men’s and women’s locker rooms
    • Administrative space
  • Creation of an Endowment to provide swimming classes to underserved populations
  • In addition, donors will have the opportunity to purchase and customize tiles that will be installed along the pool wall to permanently commemorate their support in the updated building.

Ready to help?

For more information, please contact Laura Schaaf, director of Giving, at 814-874-5802 or