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Fanny Chapman Memorial Swimming Pool

In the early 1920’s, there were few places to swim in Doylestown. On a hot summer day, one might find a shallow pool along one of Bucks County’s rocky creeks, a muddy farmer’s pond, the Delaware Canal or River.

There were a few private pools. William Mercer, younger brother of Henry, designed and built a beautifully tiled pool behind Aldie, the family mansion in Doylestown.

Mrs. Mercer frequently invited friends and neighbors to bring their children to play and swim in this little pool. It was during this time that Mrs. Mercer realized that the children needed a larger place to swim, and probably discussed the idea with her husband.

One day during the summer of 1926 as William Mercer was walking up the 2nd fairway (then the 5th) at the Doylestown Country Club, he found the perfect site for a pool on land belonging to Mr. and Mrs. John B. Lear.

When Mercer explained his plan to them, the Lears donated 1.5 acres for the pool. The pool was to be a memorial to Mr. Mercer’s favorite aunt, Fanny Chapman, who had died two years earlier at the age of 78.

The pool was to be governed by a Board of Trustees, and all operating expenses were to be paid for from membership fees and income derived from the Mercer endowment fund.

Members of the first board were: Charles C. McKinstry, Chairman, Frederick H. Clymer, Secretary, J. Carroll Molloy, Treasurer, Elsie Ross, and Jane Watson.

Mercer’s original plan called for the pool to be 40 x 75 feet, but prior to construction the dimensions were changed to 40 x 120 feet.

Construction began in April and after two hectic months, the Fanny Chapman Memorial Swimming Pool was opened to the public on a membership basis on June 21, 1927. The pool has been serving the community ever since.

One of the most important periods in the history of the pool came in 1956, when the original deed of trust, by which the pool was established, was dissolved and all the pool assets were transferred to the Borough of Doylestown.

The Board of Trustees became the Board of Managers and the Borough of Doylestown now appoints its members.

The Mercers continued their interest in the pool throughout their lives.

In 1959, Mrs. Mercer donated two more pools, the present diving pool, and the upper instructional pool, in memory of her husband, William R. Mercer, who died in 1939. In 1975, a four-year, $200,000 renovation of the Fanny Chapman pools was completed.

It included improvements such as renovated locker rooms, lighting and public address system upgrades, Olympic quality diving equipment, and a terrace rest area of which are the most highly visible elements of the pool today.

Less noticeable, but equally important were the replacement of virtually all of the pools’ piping, filtration, and chlorination equipment.

No tax dollars were used for any of the improvements.

In 1994, a fourth pool – the children’s wading pool – was added to the complex. And, in 1997 a complete renovation of the upper pool once again took place bringing it into compliance with standards recommended by the State. Later an additional 25-yard instructional pool was added at the lower end of the complex.

The updating and renovations of facilities and pools has continued with the construction of a new Toddler Pool in 2016 and the complete renovation of the office and locker room facilities again in 2018.

From its humble beginnings in 1927 the Fanny Chapman Memorial Pool Complex now boosts five swimming pools, memberships for families and individuals of all ages, and offers swim lessons to more than 750 children a summer.  

Furthermore, it is the home to one of the largest and most successful competitive swimming and diving programs in Buck’s County. 

Although owned by the Borough of Doylestown, Fanny Chapman Memorial Pool still today remains financially independent using no tax dollars for membership or program operations.

Fanny Chapman continues to be a tribute to those past and present visionaries who care to shape our community for the benefit of our children.

For more information, visit www.fannychapman.com or email poolmanager@doylestownborough.net  Located in Fanny Chapman Park, Doylestown, Pa 18901.