Rock Creek Pool is a member-owned community pool that straddles the Rosemary Hills and Rock Creek Forest neighborhoods. The pool and grounds we enjoy today are the result of the foresight and hard work of a group of people from those two neighborhoods who came together in the late 1950s. In 1957, Martin Wender, the president of the Rock Creek Forest Civic Association, sought out a volunteer to chair a group for the purpose of building a neighborhood swimming pool. Harry Bender volunteered to lead the effort. As a result of their efforts, along with others, Rock Creek Pool, Inc., was incorporated on March 10, 1958 as a non-profit organization for the purpose of constructing and maintaining a community swimming pool. Mr. Bender enlisted the help of 17 neighbors who became the first members of the board of directors.1
The first meeting of the board of directors was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bender on Freyman Drive. It was necessary for the Board to move quickly because the proposed site, known at that time as the Grubb farm, was the last available tract of land in the area. The site had earlier been known as Joseph’s Park. The earliest known owner of the property was Jesse Jenkins who conveyed a portion of the property to the Metropolitan Southern Railroad Company in 1891. The remaining portions of the property were conveyed to Clara Grubb and Samuel R. Grubb in 1916. As of 1958, when the pool was attempting to buy the property, the owners of the property were Raymond B. Grubb and Marion L. Jones, the sole heirs of Samuel R. Grubb and Clara Grubb.
The proposed site was bounded by the roadbed of the Metropolitan Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on the northwest side of the property; the Glover tract and the Suburban Sanitary Commission property with its incinerator on the northeast; property owned by the Wayne Development Corporation on the southeast; and Grubb Road and residential homes on the southwest.2
This tract had been set aside as a recreation area by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in its general zoning plan for the area promulgated in 1952. The purpose of this plan was to provide a buffer zone between the residential areas on the south and east side and the incinerator, the railroad and the county installations on the north and west. The Commission did not have the money to acquire the property, however, and in 1954, the County Council, disregarding the Commission’s plan for a park as a buffer zone between the incinerator and the residential area, rezoned most of the Glover tract, from residential to industrial.
In 1956, the Grubbs likewise sought to rezone their property from residential to industrial, arguing that because of the closeness of the Sanitary Commission property and the railroad and because the Glover tract had been rezoned as industrial, their property too was most suitable for industrial zoning. The homeowners near the pool were concerned that the zoning of the Grubb farm as an industrial area would threaten the character of the community and the value of their homes. These homeowners fought the rezoning of the property and, fortunately, defeated the Grubb’s application.
In forming Rock Creek Pool, the board of directors planned that membership would be restricted to 400 families located within a one-mile radius of the pool. The board believed that most members of the pool, particularly the children, would walk to the pool. It was estimated that approximately 1,500 families would be eligible for membership. Interest in the building of a pool was strong and by April 27, 1958, 215 families had expressed an intention to become members by putting down a deposit towards the original initiation fee of $275.
The pool hired Morton W. Noble as its architect to develop the site. He estimated that the cost of construction of the pool and related facilities would be approximately $75,000. The pool board also entered into negotiations with the Grubbs and they were able to agree upon a purchase price of $65,000. The purchase of the grounds and building of the pool were to be financed by the membership dues and a loan from Suburban Trust Company. All of the plans, however, were contingent upon receiving zoning approval to construct the pool.
A petition for zoning exemption was filed and supported by the neighbors as well as the Rock Creek Forest Citizens Association and the Rosemary Hills Citizens Association. On June 25, 1958, the county granted a special zoning exemption to permit the construction of a swimming pool.
The pool, which is owned by its 400 member families, was dedicated on May 30, 1959, and opened officially on June 7, 1959. Within the first year of operations the pool met its quota of 400 families and had a waiting list of 18 families.
From the beginning, the swim team was an integral part of the pool. The pool was a charter member of the Prince-Mont Swim League and remained a member of that league until 1979 when it joined the Montgomery County Swim league. The team has been successful in winning several divisional titles in both leagues and in providing exceptional instruction to the children of the pool.
Through the years there have been many improvements and changes to the pool and grounds, as well as many proposals that never came to fruition. When the pool was first built, there was an old house located where the basketball court now stands. That house was leased during the first years of the pool’s operations but fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1963. Proposals to build tennis courts and a basketball court were put forth in 1965. It was not until many years later, however, in 1976, that the tennis courts and the basketball court were finally built. More recently, the pool itself was resurfaced and the bathhouse, with the exception of a couple of walls, was rebuilt. Some proposals that generated controversy and were defeated included plans to build an indoor tennis facility, an ice skating rink, and a bubble over the pool for year-round use.
Through it all the pool has served as a welcome respite from the heat of summer, a pleasant gathering place for neighbors to get reacquainted after the busy winter months, and for families to spend unhurried time together.
1 The initial directors of the pool, who were all residents and homeowners in Rock Creek Forest and Rosemary Hills: Harry Bender, Robert B. Weiss, Irving Kamins, Edward Margolin, Victor Silbert, Maurice Barmash, Milton J. Feldman, Max Gordon, Bernard D. Gross, Jacob C. Lish, Philip J. Miller, Philip Notes, Martin Wender, Joseph A. Brandt, Adm. (Ret.) Joseph B. Maher, and Irvin Wolock.
2 In 1958, homes in the neighborhood surrounding the pool were selling for approximately $20,000 to $30,000.