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The Natatorium –
Haunted Place — The Natatorium
2705 W. 6th Street
Amarillo, Texas 79106
The Natatorium building can be found on old
Route 66 (W 6th street) and S. Georgia Street in Potter County.
DESCRIPTION and HISTORY:
The Natatorium, commonly known from its
beginning as "The Nat," was originally built to house an open air
community swimming pool, (36'x101'), when it opened in July of
1922. It was designed by a well-known Amarillo architect, Guy
Carlander, and was a very popular place to escape the Pan Handle
heat! In fact, it was covered in 1923 so the pool could be used all
However, 4 years later in 1926, The
Natatorium was bought by J. D. Tucker who drained the pool, built
sub-flooring and laid down 10,000 square feet of maple flooring on
top of the pool, creating a fantastic dance floor and stage for
Tucker's new dance palace/night club. The interior was decorated by
Beaux Arts Studio. A second floor was added and part of it was used
at some point as gambling rooms, sometime during the building's
history. Bands, such a Ell Hoover and his Orchestra, were hired to
play dance music for people who had paid 5 cents a ticket, for each
Throughout its history, The Nat was also
rented out for special events, parties, fundraisers and banquets,
which provided additional income as well.
During the Depression years, an Amarillo
businessman, Harry Badger, had some new ideas on improving The Nat.
Harry bought the building, and renamed it, The Nat Dine and Dance
Palace. He added the fortress architecture to the front in 1935,
and built a unique entrance to the dance hall area, which not only
opened up easy access for the public from route 66, but was also
led to the newly created dining area, The Nat Cafe.
He greatly added to the The Nat's
commercial value, attracting more people who were looking for a
place to have a fine dinner and entertainment as well. Many quality
orchestras under the Music Corporation of America played here, much
to the pleasure of the public. Orchestras such as the Dorsey
Brothers, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Guy Lombardo offered
their musical performances for dance floor activity and dinner
music! At its height of popularity, The Nat had 52 employees
In the 1940s, Dr. William Maddox bought The
Nat, and continued to offer quality music. Servicemen based at the
Amarillo Air Force Base enjoyed hanging out here, where many met
their future wives.
During the 1950s, early rock in rollers
such as Little Richard, Roy Orbison, The Crickets and Buddy Holly
entertained their fans.
In the 1960s, The Nat closed as a public
dance hall, though it was still used for occasional concerts, and
of course for community events.
In 1994, The Nat was placed in the National
Register of Historic Places, and in 1995 it was declared a Texas
Historical Landmark. Money became available to carefully renovate
this place of happy memories. The second floor became an antique
mall for awhile and The Nat Cafe space became a used book shop,
which Tom and I visited. The old ballroom still hosts various
musical bands and groups on occasion, such as the Dixie Chicks, and
people in the community still use the building for special
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
From its very beginning, The Nat has been a
place of very happy memories for many people throughout the years,
with fine food, dancing, good times and memorable events. It is no
wonder that some spirits linger behind, reliving their wonderful
times here, not quite ready to go to the other side, a familiar
scenario found in other stories found on this web site (The National Pastime Theatre, Rialto Theatre, Saint James Hotel, and Capitol Theatre, to name just a few).
Entities still enjoy listening and dancing
to the music.
When the occasional concert is held here,
ghostly couples have been spotted gliding around the dance
Entities still enjoy performing here.
During a 1996 paranormal investigation by
the Texas Panhandle Investigation group, a recording of a woman
singing with a drum solo in the background was picked up with EVP
equipment. The cameras kept turning off by themselves as it seems
the entities enjoy their privacy.
Despite efforts to paint over the outside
wall advertisement which touts "Monty McGee and His Orchestra", it
keeps bleeding through the new paint.
The second floor; Spirits are still
enjoying themselves at the gambling tables...
Upon entering the second floor rooms, the
living have felt cold spots.
Furniture has been known to be rearranged
during the evening and noticed by the living the next morning.
The entity of a woman, dressed in a 1930s
era dress, with a wine stain on the front was seen walking around
the rooms in a jovial mood, happy to be there.
Entities of some patrons, performers and
gaming enthusiasts still call The Nat their home in the
Pictures © Tom Carr
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