Herb Barringer and three of his buddies were struck with the same notion on a balmy Labor Day in 1961: Wouldn’t it be nice to have a swimming pool?
What at first seemed like a fleeting idea, led the Horsham residents on a drive - with a mission.
“We got in the car and we drove around and looked at the farms that were still around,” Barringer, now 82, recalled. “The farmer was willing and interested in having his farm be more than just houses. He wanted something for the people in the community.”
For $25,000, the friends bought 16 acres of what would become Hideaway Swim Club, a member-owned private pool on County Line Road in Horsham.
Once the land was in hand, Barringer, his three friends, as well as about a dozen others, were enlisted in the latter part of 1961 to help spread the word about a new community pool on the horizon.
“That’s very rewarding that you can go out early on and promise people things that you do not have and you do not have money for,” said Barringer, who served as the club’s first president. “We were able to include year by year all the things that we had promised.”
At the outset of Hideaway’s inaugural year in 1962, Barringer said the club had a swimming pool, bathhouse and not much else. Over time, tennis courts, badminton and various activities were added.
Today, Hideaway current president Beth Allen said the self-sustaining club features practically every recreational activity under the sun, including sand volleyball, giant checkers and a chess board, a pavilion available for parties, a nine-hole chip and putt, a playground, snack bar, as well as various play equipment available for members’ use.
Even with the new additions, Allen said the club has maintained its humble beginnings.
“It looks like a 1960s swim club,” said Allen, who runs a Horsham-based do-it-yourself repair business geared toward women. “When I joined the board five years ago, I walked in with a laundry list. They reeled me in … It’s a matter of the budget and keeping the club sound.”
To help in that effort, members chip in to spring clean and ready the club’s opening and stow chairs and equipment when the club closes for the season.
Horsham resident Tara Hallston, who has been a member since her family moved to the township in 1973, said that’s always been the way.
“Since it is a private pool and you get a bond you’re a part owner,” Hallston said. “It is an extension of your backyard.”
Bonds are a once and done fee that all members are required to pay. The purpose, according to Allen, is to protect members if the property was ever sold. Bondholders would each receive an equal share of any money made from the sale.
Back when Barringer, bondholder No. 1 purchased his bond, it cost $250. Today bonds cost $525. The bond fees are on top of a seasonal membership, but Allen said the bond allows the club’s roughly 330 families to literally “buy a stake of the property’s assets.”
“It is a co-op. You are an owner,” Allen said. “Everybody owns the same equal stake.”
For Hallston, who rode her bike to Hideaway as a kid and whose own children celebrate their half-birthdays there, the swim club is a rite of passage.
“I can not imagine what my childhood would’ve been without it,” she said, adding that now she and her husband and children visit almost daily during summer months. “It is less expensive than trying to keep them entertained anywhere else.”
In terms of how the club has evolved in the five decades since Barringer and his friends drove around Horsham in search of available farmland, Hideaway’s first president doesn’t hesitate to share his perspective.
“It’s really a good family club and I’m proud that it is. We have a lot of people who do volunteer work. That hasn’t changed,” Barringer said. “You know what’s changed? We got older.”
To learn more
Hideaway Swim Club will be holding an open house on June 2 and June 3 for community members interested in visiting the pool and possibly becoming members. The pool is open both days from noon until 9 p.m. Membership costs and other information is available by clicking here.