While the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center primarily drew guests to spiritual retreats and workshops, the lake’s scenic and recreational appeal also drew visitors to the area. When Lake Junaluska opened to the public in 1913, people swam in the west end of the lake. A sand beach and a diving board were located where the pool is now. In 1953, swimming in Lake Junaluska was prohibited because of its high bacterial count and the polio epidemic. The water’s high bacterial count was a result of pollution and straight piping coming downstream from Richland Creek.
By 1954, Lake Junaluska built a swimming pool that was at lake level so it looked like it was simply an enclosure from the lake. In 1995, the current pool was constructed inside the area of the 1954 pool, and it sits much higher above the lake’s water level.
The Paul Kern Youth Center, named in honor of Bishop Paul Kern, a prominent advocate for youth, was built in 1956. It was originally built as a center for youth activities and ministry. Therefore, the Paul Kern Youth Center was constructed at the west end of the lake near the swimming area. The Kern Youth Center contains meeting rooms, assembly areas, and a soda shop. It continues to be used chiefly for youth activities, but it is also available for other needs. In 1996-1997, the center was remodeled to include central heat and air so the facility could be used all year if necessary.