New Orleans Bicycle Club, Clubhouse, built 1892

Stop 5 of 10 in the Shadow Steeds of the Crescent City tour

In 1892, the New Orleans Bicycle Club celebrated the opening of their new clubhouse in the Garden District, at the corner of General Taylor and Baronne. The plans were drafted by W.C. Williams and Brothers and the building was constructed by G.C. Lecorgue. The cornerstone is still visible, marked with the inscription: “New Orleans Bicycle Club; Organized 1880, Incorporated 1885. E.A. Shields President. Building Committee: H. Hodgson, Rene Gruenwald. Erected 1891. Architects, W.C. Williams & Bros; Builder, L.C. Lecorgue.”

The two-story building featured Greek architecture mixed with the Queen Anne style. The building included a room for storing bicycles, a billiard room, two bowling lanes, janitors’ quarters, a reading room, two parlors, meeting and committee rooms, and a ladies’ boudoir.

Founded in 1881 by jeweler A.M. Hill, the bicycle club was the first in New Orleans. Mayor Joseph Shakespeare gave an address commending the club for its crusade for road improvement, noting that it was through the “magic wand” of good roads that the Garden District came into being.

In 1886, three members of the New Orleans Bicycle Club made a historic cycling tour from New Orleans to Boston in 30 days. Throughout the 1880s and early 1890s, the club, along with the younger Louisiana Cycling Club, sponsored bicycle races that drew enthusiastic crowds. One of these races was the Thanksgiving Day road race of 1887. The seven-mile race from the corner of Canal and Claiborne to the West End was viewed by many from a train used as a moving grandstand.

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