Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pleasure Club of Fiumedinisi

Did you know there used to be a social club along University Boulevard in the woods of Sligo Creek Park?  I didn't, until I recently found out about this through a comment thread in the Woodmoor/4 Corners Facebook group.  The club was in the area just west of the intersection of University Boulevard and Sligo Creek Parkway.  The area is east of the current-day University Towers and south of Kemp Mill Shopping Center.

Ruins of the club in 2006.  Photo by Friends of Sligo Creek.

The club existed for about 40 years at this location.  It was started by a group of recent Sicilian immigrants who wanted a place to socialize with others from their homeland.  The name "Fiumedinisi" was the name of the village they hailed from, meaning "River of Nisi".  Friends of Sligo Creek published a great article about the former club several years ago.  Below is an excerpt from that article.

1923, 33 men who had immigrated to the United States from a small mountain town in Sicily formed a club in the farm country of Maryland. The Pleasure Club of Fiumedinisi was named after their village and was located in a lodge on the banks of Sligo Creek just north of Bladensburg Road, which ran between Mitchell's Crossroads and Four Corners. Today the lodge is in ruins; Bladensburg Road has become University Boulevard; Mitchell's Crossroads has become Wheaton. 
Club location along University Boulevard, just west if Sligo Creek Parkway.  The club is the building in the woods towards the center of this 1963 image.

The members of the club lived mostly in the District of Columbia and would drive out Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road and turn left at Four Corners to reach the club. The lodge building was situated on a 5.4 acre strip of land with one end at Bladensburg Road and the other at Sligo Creek. There were two driveways (in and out) leading to the frame building with a cinder block basement, built on a slope so that the back of the basement was open towards the creek. The top floor was used for dancing and meetings. The basement was a social area where homemade Italian wine and commercial beer was drunk and cards and murra (morra in Italy) were played. Outside the walkout basement was water well and a tall greased pole, similar to a telephone pole, that challenged the climbing abilities of young men during the weekend family parties. To the right of the pole was a bocce court and a briglia court. Further towards the creek were a pair of two seater outhouses - male and female.

The club closed in the early 60's when plans for the North Central Freeway forced the sale of the land.  The club met in private homes for a few years before dissolving in 1970.  To learn more about the club and other interesting Sligo Creek History, visit the Friends of Sligo Creek website

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