The Detroit Wheelmen‘s clubhouse at 53 E. Adams was built for $40,000 in 1896. For a club of only 450 members, that sounds quite an investment.
Can you imagine a bicycle club building and owning such a facility today? This grand building was certainly an indicator of just how “gold” the golden age (1890s) of bicycling was in Detroit.
This clubhouse contained an auditorium, bowling alley, billiard and whist (card game) tables, baths, library, kitchen, dining room, and more.
The building has some really interesting gargoyles above the first floor windows. They look like fish, which wouldn’t seem to make much sense for a bicycle club.
The Detroit Wheelmen logo is on the balcony about the entrance. It’s a ‘W’ intertwined with a ‘D’.
One interesting feature is the long bike rack along the front of the building. It’s integrated with the metal grills covering the basement windows and also has the DW logo.
Unfortunately the clubhouse is no longer standing. It was located where Comerica Park currently stands. I do not know if it was demolished for the park or many years earlier. The 1928-1929 Polk Directory for Detroit does list the Wheelmen at this location.
A photo of the club interior was included in an earlier m-bike post.
UPDATE, 11/27/2012: We’ve seen a photo from 1960 that shows the building is still standing.
Photos from the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library