The Attractions of Summertime: The Port and Frenchtown Pools

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The Tome Mansion was demolished to make way for the pool. Source: Library of Congress.

In the years after World War II, community pools were the in thing, a great civic improvement providing a place to take a dip to cool off on scorching summer days.  Across the region, private-clubs, community groups, and municipalities opened those refreshing spots so young and old could find a little relief from the oppressive heat and humidity.

Here in Cecil wrecking crews made room for a pool in Port Deposit by demolishing Jacob Tome’s mansion in August 1948.  Once the lot was cleared, volunteers from the Port Deposit Lions Club got busy, excavating the space and digging out the rocks.  The eagerly anticipated attraction unofficially opened on July 15, 1950, and the formal dedication of the Jacob Tome Memorial Swimming Pool took place on August 26, 1950.

For decades after that, the sounds of laughter, splashing water, portable radios, and general merriment filled the street on the south end of town as people found summertime relief.   But by February 1981, the days for this place of summer were numbered.  The Cecil Whig reported it was “sink or swim for Port Deposit Pool” as the Lions Club approached the town about assuming responsibility for operations.  The town wasn’t interested in taking on the obligation, but needed time to consider things.  The Port Pool closed sometime after that.

On the eastern side of the county, the Frenchtown Manor Swim Club’s pool was well underway by the time summer rolled around in 1953.  While this was a private club, the facilities were turned over to the YMCA from 10 a.m. to noon free of charge to be used for swimming classes.  By August of 1953, John Irwin, the general manager, was able to announce that the club was open and interested people could secure a daily guest pass for a nominal cost.

So whenever the temperature soared in an era when air conditioning wasn’t as readily available, many people in Cecil County found life was a little bit better at the Port or Frenchtown pools.

The Port Deposit Pool

The Port Deposit Pool

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Members of the Lions Club work on the pool. Source News Courier July 22, 1949

Excavation work is well underway for the Port Deposit Pool in July 1949.  Source:  News Courier, July 22, 1949

Excavation work is well underway for the Port Deposit Pool in July 1949. Source: News Courier, July 22, 1949

The Frenchtown Pool opened in 1953.  Source:  Cecil Whig, August 13, 1953

The Frenchtown Pool opened in 1953. Source: Cecil Whig, August 13, 1953

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