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Sandra Swanson Weichert's
Historic Mount Oread

Campus Building Directory

This Week in
KU History

The University
of Kansas

Potter Lake and Pump House
Originally Built for Fire Safety

Potter Lake, dedicated in 1911, was named after T.M. Potter, a state senator and former regent. Built to provide fire protection for the campus, the lake was filled with piped in water supplemented with channeled drainage and natural springs and a pump house enclosed a motor driven pump. The pump was never used, and the house has since been used for storage.

potter lake A diving tower, springboard and pier attracted swimmers during the early years. Unfortunately seven drownings, as well as health problems caused by the polluted water, curtailed the fun. Not only is swimming forbidden, skating and sledding on Potter ice, once a popular winter activity, was prohibited in the 1970s.

Potter Lake has been drained twice for repairs, revealing interesting artifacts at the bottom--including an old Model-T Ford and a sewing machine. Whatever lies at the murky bottom of the lake contrasts with its pastoral setting and tree-lined shore, which is especially beautiful in autumn.

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potter lake
Location: North of Memorial Drive

Construction: 1910

Architect/Contractor: W.W. Gilmore, Lawrence

Size: Surface: approximately 2 acres; 16-18 feet deep; holds 4 million gallons of water

Dam: Earthen with concrete spillway, 325 feet long

Foot Bridge: Reinforced concrete faced with Oread limestone

Pump House: Oread limestone, squared; red metal roof; windows with limestone lintels and lugsills. Openings now filled with rubble.