On Saturday May 22, 2021 the Nile Swim Club of Yeadon Pennsylvania dedicated a marker from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission acknowledging the swim club as the oldest Black owned and operated swim club in the nation. In addition to the historical marker unveiling, the venerable swim club also cut the ribbon to open a full sized basketball court that was donated to the Nile Swim Club by Browns Super Stores and the Pepsi Cola bottling company.
The historic Nile Swim Club marker is one of only twenty six hundred such commemorative signs throughout the whole state. In order to secure an historical designation the Nile Swim Club had to undergo a rigorous review and vetting of their submitted documentation by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. In addition to being the first Black owned and operated swimming facility in Pennsylvania it is also the first in the nation.
Elected officials from the US Congress, Pennsylvania House and Senate, the borough Mayor, Councilpersons, School Board members, public safety officials, officers from the Yeadon Borough Historical Commission and Jeff Brown the President and CEO of Browns Super Stores participated in the dedication of the historical marker and officially opened the basketball court for the summer season.
Remarks were made by Mary Gay Scanlon US House of Representatives, Anthony Hardy Williams of the Pennsylvania Senate, Margo Davidson Pennsylvania House, Yeadon Mayor Rohan Hepkins, LaToya Monroe Council President, Nile Swim Club President Anthony Patterson, Nancy Moses Chair of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and William Mellix the Vice-Chair of the Yeadon Borough Historical Commission. Also included on the program were descendants of the original founding families of the Nile Swim Club. Jeff Brown spoke and cut the ribbon on the new basketball court.
During the 1950’s Yeadon Pennsylvania was a segregated Borough. The Yeadon Swim Club had a whites only policy and refused admittance and membership to Blacks. The children of Elmer Stewart, the grandchildren of Carson Puriefoy and Zoe Mask shared stories how proud their parents and grandparents were to found and build a facility of their own after the Yeadon Swim Club denied them entrance and membership because they were Black. All of them stated they grew up in the Nile Swim Club and how it was an indispensable hub of the community.
The Nile Swim Club is currently experiencing a revival. It was in bankruptcy and facing sale for back taxes when it was rescued from bankruptcy by former Yeadon residents Sam Patterson and Mike Pearson who pledged $130,000 towards the tax bill. They were assisted by a new Board and a group of enthusiastic volunteers determined to save the institution and remake it a viable institution in the community. The Board negotiated a tax reduction and real estate assessment, raised funds to pay down the back taxes, renovate and market the facility to remake the Nile Swim Club a center for community activities such as food distribution, free swimming lessons for the residents and students in the William Penn School District, family oriented recreation and income generating rentals.
The Nile Swim Club’s board of directors has lofty goals for the facility. Next year they anticipate constructing tennis courts to begin tennis training under the auspices of the American Tennis Association.
The Nile Swim Club is currently accepting membership applications. For more information about the Nile Swim Club and their programs call (610) 623-1535 or visit https://www.nileswimclub.org