Get our newsletters

HISTORY LIVES: Fanny Chapman Memorial Pool.


Fanny Chapman Memorial Pool. William R. Mercer (1862-1939), younger brother of Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930), and his wife Martha Dana Mercer (1872-1960) enjoyed inviting families to swim in their backyard pool at the Aldie Mansion, located on Old Dublin Pike.

In the 1920s, not many Doylestown families had swimming pools, and stories of children drowning in local streams, ponds and rivers were unfortunately commonplace in local newspapers. The Mercers realized that learning to swim was a very important skill for children.

One day, while playing golf at the Doylestown Country Club, William noticed the perfect site for a public pool. It was a parcel of vacant property adjacent to today’s 5th fairway.

He mentioned his idea to his friend, John B. Lear, who owned the land. Mr. Lear responded to the idea and donated 1.5 acres, while the Mercers supplied funds for the construction.

Their mission was to teach the community how to swim. The operating expenses were to be paid from membership fees and income derived from an endowment fund set up by the Mercer family and governed by a board of trustees. The first pool, measuring 40 feet by 120 feet, was one of the first freshwater pools in Pennsylvania. It opened on June 21,1927, and was named in honor of William’s Aunt Fanny Chapman (1846-1924).

In 1956, all the pool’s assets were transferred to Doylestown Borough, and the trustees became the board of managers. Members were appointed by the borough. In 1959, the present diving pool and the upper instructional pool were donated by Martha Mercer in memory of her husband.

There have been many other additions and improvements to the original pool complex over the years. In 1994, a wading pool for children was added; in 1997, another instructional pool at the lower end of the complex was built; and in 2016 a new toddler pool was finished.

The Fanny Chapman Swimming and Diving Club was organized in 1958 and continues to boast one of the largest and most successful competitive swimming and diving programs in Bucks County. Swim classes for all ages and skill levels are offered each summer. The pool remains financially independent, relying on revenue from its membership, grants and fundraising. On Saturday, Fanny Chapman Memorial Pool will open its doors for its 97th season.

Source: The Doylestown Patriot, May 26, 1994

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.