Steeped in history and starched tennis whites, the Main Line’s most exclusive members-only clubs are appealing to a new era of clubgoers with exclusive events and private dining.
Tennis whites, everyone!
While much of the Main Line pack up their Range Rovers and head for the Shore quicker than you can say “Atlantic City Expressway” come June, summer is rife for action on the country-club circuit. Especially since many of today’s suburban clubs are making way for a whole new generation of members.
For a bit of Wimbledon right in our own backyard, the Germantown Cricket Club (411 Manheim St., 215-438-9900; germantowncricket.org) and Philadelphia Cricket Club (415 W. Willow Grove Ave., 215-247-6290; philacricket.com) play host to the men’s USTA National Grass Court Championship August 19—28. Players, such as two-time Grand Slam winner Ellis Ferreira and Wade McGuire, hail from all over the nation.
Germantown, one of the founding members of the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA), has a rich history of hosting championships (Billie Jean King played on the storied courts), and with its decidedly inclusive philosophies, non-members are welcome to sit in a rocking chair under the great sycamore tree and watch upwards of 10 matches going on at the same time.
“Tennis started on grass, and although today it’s less prevalent throughout the US, it provides a challenge for even the best top-ranked players, which lends itself to challenging competition,” says tournament director Melanie Hittinger. “The traditions of the game come alive with traditional allwhite clothing, too,” says Jeanne Fields, head of the tennis committee.
Elsewhere, Center City club the Union League’s (140 S. Broad St., 215-563-6500; unionleague.org) acquisition of the Guard House (342 Righters Mill Road, Gladwyne, 215-563- 6500) restaurant was a smart move, giving the League’s roughly 800 members who live on the Main Line someplace to call home, close to home.
“The response has been wonderful,” says Union League General Manager Jeff McFadden. “The Guard House, dating back to 1790, was the perfect addition to our amenities and we look forward to maintaining the historic charm of this iconic establishment as The Union League Guard House.”
Both Merion Cricket Club (325 Montgomery Ave., Haverford, 610-642-5800; merioncricket.com) and the Cynwyd Club (332 Trevor Lane, Bala Cynwyd, 610-667- 4524; cynwydclub.com) are creating waves within the membership and neighboring communities, with the addition of, gasp!, pools.
With membership waning for both traditionally oldschool clubs, these Main Line institutions are going to great lengths to make themselves more appealing to the critical younger family membership, causing rifts within the membership in the process. Merion, a National Historic Landmark, has compromised and is demolishing just seven neighboring homes to make room for improvements, while agreeing to keep four designed by renowned architect Walter Durham.
The Cynwyd Club has plans for an early July debut of the much-contested addition. “The pool is definitely a game changer for the club,” says Shane Coleman, Cynwyd Club general manager. “There are not a lot of public swimming opportunities in this part of the township and we are seeing a lot of interest from families with children of all ages.”
Any way you slice--or lob--it, clubs on the Main Line are abuzz this summer.
Photography by: PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHUTTERSTOCK