A walk among the fourteen acres that make up Germantown Cricket Club’s campus, is a walk through history. From the stables of Morris Street, past the vine blanketed “Ladies’ Entrance” on Manheim Street, across the clay courts, and beneath a subterranean ruin that was once proudly the Hansberry Street ticket office and grandstand entrance to some of Philadelphia’s biggest 19th and early 20th century sporting events, we are immersed in a living, touchable, chronicle of our city’s socio-economic evolution. As the current shepherds of this history, it is our generation’s responsibility to preserve this memoire, revitalize that which has decayed, and deliver to the next generation a history to both learn from and celebrate.
A large part of The Friends of GCC’s mission is to create the vehicle for leaders in our membership and leaders in our community to step up and carry the Germantown Cricket tabula forward through time. We have been granted the opportunity to preserve this treasure of architecture, eight generations of period artifacts, and a cache of cultural relics. These leaders, the Friends-of-GCC supporters, will help safeguard a Germantown Cricket Club anthology that details Philadelphians’ celebrations with, frankly, its scars. All of our glory and our tears remind and teach generations.
We are excited to embrace the preservationists among us as they peel away the layers of racquet sport history, Philadelphia history, and big city United States socio-economic history. GCC was borne in 1854 by the merged cricket passion of the broad-shouldered industrialists who shaped our city with the young, adept, working-class, all-rounders. From that merger and eventual move to 411 Manheim Street, the Germantown Cricket Club has seen it all. It has been the host and home to champions, leaders, mayors, movers and shakers, barristers, medics, scoundrels, and heroes; Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, international tennis (and cricket for that matter) legends, and our own 10-time tennis grand slam champion Bill Tilden.
In a campus centered on a clubhouse designed by renown American architect Stanford White (New York’s Pennsylvania Station, The West & East Wings of The White House, and Columbia University’s Main Campus to name just a few), we are called to steward layer upon layer of history tucked away in corners just a court’s length from where we look out over our pastoral tennis pitch. And for all of this grandeur, our history is not without the warts of any private club borne in the 1800s. Work to preserve all of this history and to teach where we as a city have succeeded and where we have stumbled and fell, is work to make a statement; our generation’s time as the shepherds of Germantown Cricket Club is an all-out effort to make our club a reflection of the city and society we want for our children.