The Detroit Wheelmen Clubhouse on Adams

Detroit Wheelmen Clubhouse at 53 E. Adams

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’.

Grand Circus Park from 1920

Grand Circus Park from 1920

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.

UPDATE, 2/18/2018, A Free Press column from August 26, 1969: “When they tore down a building behind the Metropolitan YMCA, they found in the cornerstone several copies of Detroit newspapers, plus some editions of The Detroit Phonograph, publication of the cycling club that headquartered in the building.” Though still to be confirmed, it seems the clubhouse was transferred to the YMCA at some point. The Detroit Institute of Technology began leasing space at the YMCA including the clubhouse.

Photos from the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library

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3 Responses to “The Detroit Wheelmen Clubhouse on Adams”

  1. Todd Scott Says:

    Thanks to Mikem on the DetroitYes forums. He’s determined the following about the clubhouse’s demolition:
    I could narrow it down to between 1967 and 1981; not a big help, but it definitely was demolished before the stadium clearing started. A 1967 Polk directory lists the location (131 E Adams) as vacant. The 1981 aerial photo from the DTE collection at WSU shows an empty lot.

  2. Todd Scott Says:

    Here are some interesting photos of the Detroit Wheelmen which may have been taken inside of the Adams club or their earlier club on Washington.

  3. Catch the Wind: a Wolverine Documentary | Says:

    […] I’ve spent time researching the Detroit Wheelmen and it’s simply fascinating to compare them with Detroit bicyclists […]

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