Then, by coincidence, we stumbled across the CNN Money video below, posted only a few days ago. We took that as a sign that we needed to pursue it further, and we're glad we did. It's a fascinating story.
The pool is built into a Berkshires limestone quarry in Sheffield, Massachusetts, on about 50 acres owned by Joel Goldstein, the president of Mercedes Distribution Co. (no, not that Mercedes). But Goldstein didn't actually dream up and build the pool (although an HGTV "Cool Pools" segment from last year certainly might leave that impression). Yahoo Homes learned the background story by talking to Michael Giannamore, the vice president of Aqua Pool & Patio, whose Connecticut-based family business built the pool.
Goldstein greatly improved and beautified the property, but the transformation of the quarry into a pool was the previous owner's project. The property is "buried in the woods," Giannamore told us, and she bought it expressly because of the quarry, where she wanted a "swimming hole." She imposed no budget whatsoever, but she wanted the quarry as intact as possible. That ruled out "the most logical and predictable" solution, Giannamore said: concrete blocks lined with gunite (basically, cement sprayed from a firehose, he said), then covered with limestone to match.
That meant a degree of uncertainty probably never experienced by Aqua Pool before or since: The designers had no idea whether the pool would hold water. They had to leave the quarry's three existing walls entirely untouched, and in the floor they were allowed only to jackhammer two trenches for cleaning nozzles. Weren't there cracks in the limestone? we asked. "Oh yeah!" Giannamore exclaimed. "They're big, too!" For all they knew, the water would immediately leak out when they finished the job and filled the pool -- but the owner was OK with the risk, so they went ahead.
The finished pool is about 15,000 gallons, measuring roughly 20 by 40 feet, and deepening from about 3 feet at its shallowest to about 7 feet, Goldstein told CNN Money. The accompanying house -- which we're told Goldstein expanded from a simple poolhouse into a weekend home -- is about 3,500 square feet.
So how's the quarry pool doing at holding water in the 15 years since Aqua Pool broke ground? "Better than most swimming pools," Giannamore told Yahoo Homes. "It holds water perfectly." Evaporation isn't a big problem, either, but it is a "service struggle," he said, because you can't cover the pool for the winter (a cover manufacturer laughed at him when he asked). So every year it fills with leaves and debris, requiring a power wash after the pool is drained; then it's filled up with chlorinated water for a new swim season.
By now we're sure you're wondering, as we were, the obvious question. But alas: Giannamore wouldn't tell us how much this all cost. "A lot" was all he'd allow. And it's "better-looking in person than any video you'll see."
Is this the most beautiful backyard pool in America? We think it might just be -- and we've seen plenty of spectacular pools (rounded up in a slideshow here), including Celine Dion's spectacular backyard water park.
But if we're wrong, we want to know! To upload photos of candidates, just join Yahoo Homes' Flickr group -- where, incidentally, we always welcome your original photos of home projects, features, etc., whether you're an industry professional or just someone with a special home to show off. We find many of our story ideas in Yahoo Homes' Flickr group, and we feature a photo from the group here on our Spaces blog every weekday.
Update, 4 p.m. PT Oct. 11: I've been watching the comments, and quite a few people are asking about the pool temperature. Giannamore told me that Aqua Pool installed two heaters. Remember, they weren't sure whether the pool was going to hold water -- and if the pool had a consistent leak, it'd need constant refilling. Frequent topping off would chill the water further, so: two heaters!
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