The History of the Philadelphia Cricket Club
Founded in 1854, The Philadelphia Cricket Club is one of the oldest clubs in the country devoted to the playing of games. As the name indicates, the Club was formed by a group of young men of English descent who had played the game while students at the University of Pennsylvania. With the wish to continue to play together after their graduation, they formed the Club under the leadership of William Roach Wistar.
If long on enthusiasm for the game they were short on funds and for the first thirty years of their existence they did not own their own property. They would meet and play Cricket on any ground available and thus they "wandered" from Camden, New Jersey, to Frankford to Chestnut Hill to Nicetown playing against teams who could provide a "home pitch."
The Club's colors, red, black and gold, were in fact adopted from one of the most famous English teams, I Zingari, also known as "The Gypsies", because they too "wandered" from pitch to pitch in search of a game.
In 1883, The Club "came home" to Chestnut Hill through the generosity of a benefactor, Henry H. Houston who arranged for them to settle down at The Club's present location on West Willow Grove Avenue in the St. Martin's section of Chestnut Hill.
Shortly after, other games and amusements were added. The Club was one of the founding members of the American Lawn Tennis Association in 1881. When a National Women's Tennis Championship was inaugurated in 1887, the event was conducted at The Club and held there annually until, in 1921, the championship was moved to Forest Hills, New York.
Additionally, one of the highlights of the year, The Philadelphia Horse Show was held for many years on the grounds of The Club. Today, that show is held annually at the Devon Horse Show grounds.
When the Golf Association of Philadelphia was organized in 1897, The Club was one of four founding members. The nine-hole course was built in 1895 and a new eighteen-hole course in 1897. The old eighteen-hole course, known as St. Martin's and now reduced to a pleasant nine-hole layout, hosted the United States Open Championships in 1907 and 1910.
Because The Club did not own the grounds on which the golf course was built, a large tract of land was purchased in 1920. A new championship course was constructed in Flourtown, which opened for play in 1922. Over the years, it has hosted numerous city and state championships.
Today at St. Martins, The Club provides facilities for tennis, squash, swimming and paddle tennis. At Flourtown, in addition to golf, a private shooting preserve is maintained. A comprehensive program in all sports is provided for members.
The game of Cricket was disbanded in 1924 but was revitalized in 1998 by the Director of Tennis who grew up in New Zealand where Cricket is popular.
~PCC History by Joseph S. F. Murdoch, Historian