Thanks to Beverly Hills HS Athletics for portions of this story –
(12-23-21) During Christmas the movie ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, which just celebrated its 75th anniversary, with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed is a favorite and seen by millions year after year.
It’s A Wonderful Life clip featuring the Swim-Gym
One of the scenes featured in the film is the dance competition scene on the gym floor featuring George Bailey and Mary Hatch dancing. When an upset suitor (Carl Dean Switzer, who played Alfalfa on The Little Rascals) of Mary’s discovers there is a swimming pool underneath the floor. That is when the fun begins and the key is used to open the court…George and Mary fall in while dancing and the rest of those at the dance decide to jump in.
That swim-gym is located at Beverly Hills High School and is still used by the Normans basketball and swim teams.
The Beverly Hills (California) High School Swim-Gym is a legend in the world of high school gym floors. It combines wood and water, which is unheard in a typical gymnasium. It was built in 1939-1940 and was designed by Stiles O. Clement. This design was quite progressive and is still considered to be an architectural icon and a local landmark. The wood floor is located approximately 5 feet above the 23 meter swimming pool. It was designed to split in the middle and retract underneath concrete bleachers at the turn of a key to transform from basketball court into a swimming pool.
The Swim-Gym has been featured in many movies, including the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”. It is still enjoyed today by Beverly Hills High School students and the residents of the community. The above You Tube video was created by the Beverly Hills Historical Society to learn more about this local landmark.