Carr Family

Dad and Mom Carr were prominent Ames humanitarians who operated Carr’s Pool.  Reuben Emmett Carr (1878-1957) was the eldest of nine children born to Rev. Joseph and Mary Carr in Union Mills, Iowa.  He came to Story County in 1904 and married Alpharetta DeFore (1883-1970) at Ames in 1906.  They lived in a log home before building their own house in 1908.  Over the course of 40 years the couple raised 86 foster children, of whom three were adopted (Ferrell, Jack, and Donna).  Their home at 505 East 16th Street was torn down in 1976.  Mr. Carr engaged in various business enterprises over the years.  He taught carpentry at Iowa State College under Prof. Davidson, operated Carr’s Dairy and milk route, and built silos in the area under the name of Iowa Silo Construction Company.  He operated a sand and gravel extraction business on the South Skunk River at the end of 16th Street.  In 1926 the Carrs opened an outdoor swimming pool and operated it until the end of 1972 when it was sold to the city of Ames.  An outdoor roller skating rink, park, and miniature golf course were added adjacent to the pool, although the roller rink was later moved indoors to the old field house from 1939-1947.  Mr. Carr, together with Mr. Harvey P. Stearns, organized the Ames Drum and Bugle Corps in 1936.  The group eventually grew to include 112 children before it disbanded in 1941.  Mr. Carr received many honors during his lifetime.  He was an honorary member of the Ames Kiwanis Club and led the club in the tiny tots and crippled children’s swimming programs.  The couple received national publicity in magazines and radio shows for their humanitarian work. 

Alpha and Emmet Carr married in Ames in 1906 and during their 51 year partnership, adopted three children and provided foster care for over 80 more. Their care and concern for the welfare of children who were swimming in dangerous conditions in the Skunk River lead them to construct a state of the art swimming pool in 1926 when voters turned down a referendum to construct one. Carr's pool became well-known for the purity of its water, and for the quality of its teaching programs, including its innovative Tiny Tots for those aged 2-6 years. The Carr family operated the pool until 1973 when it was purchased by the City of Ames. The exhibit chronicles the Carr's remarkable family life and the operation of the swimming pool.