A short walk from school via Haverford Station Road lies Merion Cricket Club. The club’s iconic red brick structure facing a six-acre great lawn has had a role in Main Line lore since the Gilded Age. Today, this voluntary association of more than 2,000 members shares for mutual benefit including athletics, dining, and social activities.
The club’s eponymous sport, cricket, has been in the area since 1834. Haverford College founded its cricket team that same year. Decades later, cricket enthusiasts created the first iteration of the Merion Cricket Club in 1865 on the grounds of a private home in Wynnewood. Having no clubhouse at the time, cricket bats and equipment were stored in a box at the entrance of the adjacent public school, courtesy of the Lower Merion School District. In 1873, the club moved to a location of five acres on Cricket Avenue in nearby Ardmore.
Around this time, the medieval game of tennis experienced a resurgence in England. The first tennis tournament at Wimbledon was held in 1876. Three years later in 1879, tennis was introduced at Merion Cricket Club on Cricket Avenue, triggering the need for larger grounds. In 1892, the club purchased 12.5 acres for its present and permanent home on Montgomery Avenue in Haverford. Four years later, in 1896, golf was introduced through a lease of land located nearby at Fishers Road.
Over time, cricket receded in popularity and racquet sports rose in prominence at Merion Cricket Club. In particular, tennis and squash are the dominant sports at this club that has produced many national champions in squash and leading tennis players over the past 100 years.
Time has also witnessed existential threats to the club’s continued operation. In 1896, Merion’s clubhouse on Montgomery Avenue burned to the ground. The next year, a newly built grand clubhouse, designed by famed architect Frank Furness, was gutted by fire. The Depression of the 1930s and World War II had severe financial impacts on the club, too. Around the time of World War II, one club became two as the golf portion split and became the Merion Golf Club.
Proximity has facilitated a beneficial connection for racquet sports between The Haverford School and this nearby club. Generations of Fords have developed their skills in squash and tennis at Merion. “They complement each other,” says Merion squash pro Alecia Rodriguez. “If you play at Merion, you’ll likely compete and train with fellow Haverford students.”
“It makes a big difference. Merion is a great place to develop your squash or tennis game,” Fourth Former Lucas Harrington said. The benefits of this connection continue, as Haverford tennis is seeking its twelfth-straight Inter-Ac championship this season, and the squash team finished third in the nation.