Philadelphia, PA – The historic Nile Swim Club in Yeadon Pennsylvania reopened over the Memorial Day weekend with a full itinerary of family oriented events for current members and designed to attract new members to the venerable swimming club. The day long weekend events were free to Nile Swim Club members and $5 for the general public. The Memorial Day weekend provided the ideal kick off time for the Nile’s reopening.
The weekend schedule started off with a Friday movie night, a showing of Jumanji. Saturday was all day Community Day and the evening featured a cabaret/splash party with a local R&B Funk band Badd Kitti and DJs. Sunday featured family cookouts and games and Monday was Family Fun Day with a magic show and DJ music. Each day there were air bounces, waterslides as well as the wading pool for younger children and the swimming pool for members and guests. The Nile Café was open, vendors were available to share their products and services and for the most part the weather was cooperative.
The Nile Swim Club was founded in 1959 as the first African-American owned and operated swim club in the nation. The Nile came into being because in 1957 the white swim club in the borough, The Yeadon Swim Club, refused membership and admittance to Blacks living in the borough as did the swim clubs in the surrounding neighborhoods of Delaware County. Two families pooled their resources (no pun intended), mortgaged their homes, purchased a small tract of land, designed and built a pool and clubhouse on Union Avenue. The original founders were subsequently joined by several additional families and they created a not for profit corporation which eventually purchased an additional two and a half acres for the facility.
The Nile thrived during the 1950’s and well into the latter part of the twentieth century. As with many Black institutions the advent of integration offered other options for Blacks and the Nile declined in popularity and membership.
In recent years rising tax assessments from Yeadon Borough, Delaware County and the William Penn School District were more than the dwindling membership could support so the facility fell into disrepair and tax delinquency. At one point the Nile owed over $270,000 in back taxes and was forced to file for bankruptcy.
Recognizing the historical importance of the Nile Swim Club several residents and interested parties from around the area banded together to save it. Anthony Patterson a successful real estate professional who manages properties and buys and sells houses is the Vice President of the Nile Swim Club Board of Governors. He shared the progress the new Board has made paying down the taxes and renovating the facilities.
“We owed a significant amount of money in back taxes to the county, the borough and the school district. We’ve paid off the county and the borough in full and we’ve paid this year’s taxes as well. We still have a back balance to the William Penn school district which we are in the process of paying off as well.”
Patterson says the board is fully committed to the revitalization of the Nile Swim Club. The Nile was facing foreclosure and had filed for bankruptcy. The current Board’s immediate priority was paying off the taxes, renovating the buildings, refurbishing the bath and locker rooms and the grounds, most of which they have done. “Once we do that, we want to increase membership significantly. We are presently at where our membership was last year and typically most folks don’t join or pay until late June or July.
My goal is to double our membership we had a lot of people pay over the last few weeks. People are seeing the work that’s being done; we’ve totally rehabbed the bathrooms, the locker rooms and the reception area have been totally redone. Those were the original bath room and reception area that were built in 1959, we’re not completely done yet but we’re well on our way. We’ve done work on the outside and people see we are making progress”
Patterson says the intermediate and long term goals are to redo the tennis and basketball courts. The Nile has established a partnership with the US Tennis Association. His brother Sam and Sam’s wife Deidre, who is an avid tennis player, are donating much of the money to refurbish the tennis courts and the USTA will create programs to encourage, teach and train youngsters to play tennis.
The Board has also committed to maintaining the needed documents and accountability to maintain their IRS 501C3 status. The Board has brought on the needed professionals including: grant writers, administrators, accountants and attorneys and they are moving to implement their five year strategic plan.
The Board is also looking to secure historic designation for the Nile Swim Club. “We are working on that as well. We had it (the application) kicked back for a few minor details and we are working to resolve them for the county and nationally as well.”
They are also working to appeal and challenge their tax assessment and have secured attorneys to work on this issue because the taxes are over $30,000 a year and the facility is only in operation for four months.
The Memorial Day Weekend kicked off an ambitious schedule for the Nile’s 2019 season. “We’re doing a crab feast this summer, we’re doing Jazz on The Nile, live jazz bands, Caribbean festival, live Reggae bands and movie nights, not every week but several times a month. We want to teach kids to swim for free and have state of the art facilities.” Patterson shared.
For more information about the Nile Swim Club, membership rates, hours of operation, rentals and events go to www.nileswimclub.org or call (610) 623-1535.