Hagerstown's Northwood Swim Club turns 50

June 25, 2008|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- When the Northwood Swim Club was envisioned more than 50 years ago, the stated goal on the brochure was, "To make Hagerstown a better place to live."

That brochure was created in 1958 to sell the idea of a private family-style pool at 13116 Pennsylvania Ave. It also touted the benefits of paying $200 plus tax for a family membership - a tidy sum back then.

"Local banks have been contacted and will grant loans for this purpose to qualified applicants," the 1958 brochure said.

A large, L-shaped pool and a 30-foot fenced wading pool were built, along with "modernistic" showers, restrooms, a bathhouse and a landscaped 5-acre site.

Memberships were limited to 400 families when the pool opened. Applicants were to be screened by a board of directors, the brochure said.


The initial cost of building the complex in 1958 was set at $80,000, according to the brochure.

"I was the very first member," said Ralph F. Baker of Hagerstown.

Baker, 86, said by telephone that he signed up his family that first year for a good reason: "We used to go all the way to Cowan's Gap in Pennsylvania to swim, so this was a lot closer."

Baker, his wife and two daughters were at the Northwood Swim Club nearly every weekend during the warm months, he said.

"We had a lot of fun times," he recalled.

In addition to Baker, the original swim club leaders in 1958 were G.S. Sexton, J.R. Hamilton Jr., George Hollenbach, John Evans, Claude Williams, Claude Huber, R.O. Snyder, Melvin Cawl and R.J. Barchet.

"Now my grandson, Brad O'Connor, has my membership," Baker said.

An open house to mark the 50th anniversary season was held June 7 as the pool opened for the 2008. Another is planned for Saturday, from noon to 9 p.m.

Bill Bergan, assistant Northwood manager, has been with the club for three years.

Now, there are 309 family memberships at Northwood. The maximum allowed is 415 families, Bergan said.

The first-year cost for a family is $1,340. That includes annual dues, an application fee and the base cost of $705.

"But after the first year, the cost is just $425 a year, and that includes free swim lessons for members," Bergan said.

The pool hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information, call 301-791-3555.

If you go ...

What: Northwood Swim Club open house

When: Saturday, noon to 9 p.m.

Where: 13116 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown

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