The Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society in Ardmore is in jeopardy. It’s an indoor rink, so the threat is not from the soaring July temperatures of late. Rather, the nation’s first skating club — dating to 1849 — needs funds to keep its building from gliding further into disrepair. Paul Jablow shaved down the details in his Philadelphia Inquirer story.
The “humane society” portion of the entity’s title stems from the days when the club operated wholly outdoors. Members were routinely equipped to rescue fellow skaters who had fallen through lake or pond ice. The strong twine they carried while gracefully navigating the frozen surface was a steady reminder to help others in dire need.
In 1937, the club moved indoors to Ardmore, building a hangar-like structure that, at its time, was considered an engineering marvel.
The club’s longevity has enabled it to play “…an outsized role in the development of figure skating as an American pastime and competitive sport,” says Kathleen Abplanalp, director of historic preservation at the Lower Merion Conservancy. By 1941, its reputation had grown to warrant holding the first national figure skating championships there.
But the passage of time has precipitation renovations that include an upgrade to the ice-making machinery.
Club members are now actively seeking the building’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, a distinction that would open avenues to fund the work.
Further details on the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society are at The Philadelphia Inquirer.