12/02/2012 12:05 am ET Updated Jan 31, 2013

San Francisco's Fleishhacker Pool House Burns To The Ground (PHOTOS)

The historic Fleishhacker Pool House burned to the ground Saturday morning, marking a tragic end for the iconic San Francisco structure that once served the largest pool in the world.

Built in 1924 by wealthy philanthropist Herbert Fleishhacker and situated next to the San Francisco Zoo, the pool itself had the capacity for 10,000 swimmers in its heyday. It was so big, in fact, that lifeguards patrolled the area by rowboat and water was pumped in directly from the Pacific Ocean.

It closed in 1971 after years of struggle with both its funding and upkeep. The pool itself was covered in gravel and converted to a parking lot for the zoo, but the poolhouse remained on the grounds. During its final decades, the structure crumbled to shambles, covered in graffiti and frequented by squatters.

"I'm as nostalgic as anyone in the Bay Area, and it was once a beautiful landmark," the San Francisco Chronicle's Peter Hartlaub wrote of the building's ultimate demise. "But I hope that once the house was clear of any people inside, no firefighter was put at even the slightest risk fighting to save the structure. The city and later the San Francisco Zoological Society had 39 years to do something with that building."

Last year, 7x7 magazine published a photo gallery featuring images of the Fleishhacker Pool and pool house in both its glory days and abandoned final years. Take a look at the images here, and click through our slideshow below for more.

Fleishhacker Pool House