Brookside Country Club
|Brookside Country Club|
850 N. Adams Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Architect: J.G. Harrison & W.F. Gordon
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When a group of Pottstown’s leading citizens got together in the old Security Building in June 1916, to found a country club, the big question on the agenda was not the acquisition of suitable land for the construction of a golf course. No, indeed. The course that the new club looked forward to enjoying its golf on was already in existence. It was one year old, it had nine holes, it was very lightly played in summer, and it belonged to the Hill School. What had to be resolved was the club’s name. After reviewing a number of possibilities, including Hill and Dale as well as Rock Hill, the founding fathers— among them were William Mills, Thomas McCaslin, Horace Storb, Andrew Vaughn, Rhea Rutter, Dwight Meigs, and Ralph and Emmanuel Meyerhoff—did settle on a name, and rather a mouthful it was: Brookside Country Club of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. It was agreed to buy the Kepler property (three-quarters of an acre at Adams and Prospect Streets) and a small piece of farmland. The Kepler parcel, which cost $3,500, had a house and a barn on it. The dwelling would be converted into a clubhouse. Plans also called for the club to build on its strip of farmland two golf holes, which would be an extension of the Hill School nine, thus
In July 1916, the club named J.P. Roe as its first president and William E. Mills vice president. An initiation fee of $50 and annual dues of $20 were set. In August, a charter was signed and an application filed with the county.
Brookside received its charter in December 1917, eight months after the United States entered the war. At this time the board of governors drew up an official agreement with the Hill School that provided for the use of the golf course. The two extra holes never were built. Nor was the Kepler house converted to a clubhouse. And club activities were suspended for the duration.
The club’s first board meeting after the war took place in June 1919. A proposal to reduce annual dues from $20 to $10 passed easily. Golf privileges were also pegged at $10 and were payable directly to the school. Dwight Meigs, a founding member of the club as well as an executive in the school administration, proposed that Brookside should sell the three-quarter-acre lot with the barn and the dwelling and purchase the school’s military mess hall (a wartime construction) for its clubhouse. As a sweetener, Brookside’s members would be permitted to swim in the school’s pool. The proposal was accepted. For $3,000 the club bought the mess hall and the land where the 14th and 15th holes and the practice field are now located. The mess hall exists today as the ballroom and a part of the kitchen of the clubhouse.
In the fall of 1921, an exhibition match that pitted Walter Hagen and Atlantic City Country Club’s "Sonny" Fraser against Harry Vardon and Ted Ray gave Pottstown its first look at the game on its highest level. And the following year the club hired its first golf professional, James McConnell. Records show that in 1923 he was paid a total of $100 for the months of July, August and September. A greenkeeper, Jake Lightcap—he also served as general handyman—was hired that summer and paid the princely sum of $45 for his services through Sept. 15.
In 1924, the Hill School raised the golf dues to $30 annually. There was talk of adding a second nine, but in the years that lay ahead—first the Depression, then World War II—the club’s footing was often a bit shaky. So it was not until the peaceful prosperity of the Eisenhower era that William and David Gordon, the father-and-son team from Doylestown, would be called in to remodel the original nine and lay out a second nine, the club to own one nine outright and sign a 50-year lease with the school for the other nine.
To learn more about Brookside’s history, check out the Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine on the club’s 101st birthday, which appeared in the Winter 2017 edition.