Oman’s Stone and FDR’s Pool

Did you know there is an indoor swimming pool in the White House?

While you might not find this question on a U.S. history test, it does provide an interesting anecdote. 

Throughout his adult life, Franklin D. Roosevelt used swimming as a means to exercise and ease the side effects of polio. In 1933, he decided to bring his physical therapy to the White House by requesting the construction of an indoor swimming pool. 

FDR's swimming pool (credit: 
National Archives).

The pool is located in the West Wing, and for years was only accessible through a trapped door in the press briefing room. 

Now, you might be thinking: what does this have to do with Oman Systems?

FDR's Thank You Letter to John Oman

John Oman Senior started his career as a stonemason and founded Crab Orchard Stone to operate alongside Oman Construction in 1929. 

In 1933, Crab Orchard Stone was used to provide the non-slip material for Roosevelt’s swimming pool. This stone, found only in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, allowed the president to move around the pool with ease and eliminated the need for mats.

Roosevelt was so please with the floors, he wrote a personal thank you letter to John Oman. The letter still hangs in the Oman Systems office today.

An outdoor pool was later built at the request of Gerald R. Ford in 1975. However, FDR’s “grand old tub” will always hold a special place in our hearts. 

White House Envelope Addressed to John Oman.