Route 66: Amarillo Natatorium

Although the building itself was built 44 years before the appearance of the famous Mother Road, fate would have it standing right on the very road which took travelers west to New Mexico and points beyond or east to Oklahoma and points beyond. Today, this little stretch of the infamous Highway 66 is called Sixth Street and it runs through part of Amarillo.

The Nat, as locals refer to it, is short for natatorium, the Latin word for indoor swimming pool. It was built for this purpose in 1922, but 4 years later it was bought by Mr J.D. Tucker who turned it into a dance hall, covering the pool with a wood dance floor. From then on, the Nat’s history is all about entertainment. From the flappers of the Roaring 20s to the advent of rock’n’roll, the Nat even managed to weather the Great Depression, finding new and creative ways to entice customers through its doors. In the 30s, the Nat changed ownership again, being purchased by Mr Harry Badger, and was renamed The Nat Dine and Dance Palace with the addition of the Nat Café.

The third and current owners bought The Nat and once again its business was changed completely. It was renovated and turned into an antique mall. That’s when the hauntings were reported. Employees and customers alike would report feeling cold spots in the upstairs room which once served as a gambling room. Noises could be heard when people thought themselves to be alone and the owner would often arrive at work in the morning to find furniture rearranged.

A psychic who once visited The Nat claimed to be in contact with a woman who often hung around the gambling room. She is seen wearing a white dress with a red stain on the bodice. According to legend, one night the woman was enjoying a glass of wine when another patron bumped into her causing the wine to be spilt on her dress. She seems to have been having so much fun, she is reluctant to leave. The ballroom floor is also another place patrons are reluctant to leave; when bands are set to perform there today, a ghostly couple can be seen gliding over the floor.

These days The Nat enjoys a place on both the National Register of Historic Places as well as a Texas Historical Landmark. It’s also used occasionally for entertainment when stars like the Dixie Chicks or Cooder Graw or Joe Ely are in town.

Source: Legends of America: Haunted Amarillo Texas Natatorium

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