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Sports Scenes from Germantown’s Past

July 30, 2012

Following Friday’s grandiose and imaginative opening ceremony, the Olympics are now in full swing.  Over the weekend, athletes representing the USA earned a total of eleven medals in a variety of events, with more surely on the way.

For roughly the next two weeks the eyes of the world will be on London and the highly-skilled athletes it hosts. In honor of this age-old event, let’s take a quick look at a few scenes from Germantown’s own sporting history.

Image credit: John Mosley Collection, Courtesy Charles L. Blockson Afro American Collection, Temple University.

Germantown’s own claim to sporting fame comes in the form of renowned African-American athlete Ora Washington. Washington, originally born in Virginia in 1899, moved with her family to Germantown as a teenager. Here, she played and later also taught at the local YWCA, located at the current site of the Settlement Music School (6128 Germantown Avenue). Washington went on to become a national tennis champion, racking up a grand total of eight national singles crowns from the American Tennis Association. She also played for the Philadelphia Tribunes women’s basketball team from 1932-1942, which led to her 2009 induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. In the photograph above, Washington (right) displays her trophy at the 1939 Pennsylvania Open tennis tournament in Philadelphia.

The majority of Germantown athletes, meanwhile, have mostly maintained local profiles. Over the years, a number of organizations have provided neighborhood residents with the chance to play a variety of sports through recreational teams. Scroll through for images of a few of these teams from years past.


Pictured here is a photograph, circa 1890s, featuring the baseball team of the Fourteenth Police District, which currently has its headquarters at Haines Street and Germantown Avenue.


Above is the 1903-1904 basketball team of the Boys’ Parlors Association of Germantown, founded in 1887.


In 1907 the Boys’ Parlors Assocation was officially renamed the Germantown Boys’ Club. Above is a photograph featuring one of the club’s teams in 1909, fondly christened “The Runts.”


The tennis team of the Lakenau School for Girls, circa 1900-1920. Anyone know the significance of the little dog pictured front and center?


Boys’ Club football team, pictured in 1928.

To view these photographs and more, visit the Pat Henning Library and Archives of the Germantown Historical Society, open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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