In 1957, Yeadon’s black families were denied membership in the Yeadon Swim Club. Determined to provide a place for their children to swim, they purchased a section of Sullivan Field, now Yeadon Community Park.
The three original founders, Carson Puriefoy, Elmer Stewart and Zoe Mask, were later joined by seven black Yeadon families to form a non-profit corporation in February, 1958, the Nile Swim Club of Yeadon, the name chosen to harken back to the ancient, life-giving waters at the heart and soul of African American heritage. In April, 1959, they made settlement on a tract of land in Sullivan Field, and signed a contract with Harold Boyd, a young black architect to design the club. The Nile Swim Club could not possibly be as lavish as the white club turned out to be. The young black architect chosen to develop the Nile had just earned his architectural degree. He moved forward with pride and enthusiasm. His plan would be simple and more utilitarian in design. It would encompass a regulation-size swimming pool, a wading pool for young children, bathrooms, an office and a snack bar.
Yet, from that very simplicity and utility sprung equality itself. To be sure, not the true equality that remains a still-distant goal, but equality that black entrepreneurs had time and again created, recasting white jurists’ Plessy v. Ferguson rule of law into a steel beam of defiance, of spirit unbroken and unbent. The spirit of Tuskegee, the spirit of American jazz, the spirit of the Apollo…that was the spirit of the Nile, the first and still the only black-owned and operated private swim club in America.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held in May, 1959, and on July 11, 1959, the Nile Swim Club was officially opened. In 1963, under the presidency of Thomas Gary, the Club purchased 2 ½ additional acres, and a basketball court and tennis courts were added.
It is that same spirit that has kept the doors of the Nile Swim Club open to all people, regardless of race, season to season. With the support and determination of our members over the years, through adversity and limited resources, the Nile today continues to provide aquatic and other recreational services to the entire community. We hope that you will join us in our struggle to preserve this precious legacy.
The Nile has rich history in the Yeadon community, dating back to 1958
PRECIOUS PLACES- A Video on the History of the Nile Swim Club
The first officers of the club were:
W.H Henderson, MD