Every good club needs a Clubhouse. When the Brighton Bicycle Club was founded in 1878 the founding members were all fairly young men or boys. Harry G. Ellard was about 19 years old. It was most likely his home at 668 Freeman Avenue in the predominantly German Brighton neighborhood that the club was first formed. Most of the inaugural members lived within just a few blocks of one another. In 1886 the club is listed in the Williams’ Directory at 70 Mclean Ave, which happens to be on the same block where the Cincinnati Red Stockings baseball grounds were located. It was just one block from Harry Ellard’s home on Freeman Ave.
By 1891 the club had grown in prominence and they were able to support a clubhouse on 14th Street adjacent to the Music Hall on Washington Park. This structure is recognizable today:
In 1884 clubs in Cincinnati were renting out Power Hall, which is the hall to the north of the Music Hall building facing 14th Street, for races and winter riding. The hall had a large open floorplan with balconies for observers. This hall is now the Ballroom and is right across the street from the former clubhouse.
Otto Burger’s photos of the interior of the clubhouse show a dowdy late 19th century interior with printed floral paper on the walls and ceiling, lace curtains, decorative carpets, and a collection of high back chairs and framed prints on the walls. Lighting was from gas fixtures suspended from the middle of the room from the ceiling.
The front room on the ground floor had a piano opposite a fireplace. This was the main meeting room. The next room back was dominated by a pool table. Scores were kept by chits on a wire stretched high between the walls of the room.
The room with the pool table had a door to the upstairs, which was also part of the clubhouse. The period photo of the club shows members leaning out the windows, so these rooms must have been used as well.
In 1932, on the occasion of a club reunion, Herman Bumiller wrote:
The old clubhouse near the Canal
and the Brewery that stood nigh it!
How soothing to our lips the fluid
that flowed from the Keg – “The
old oaken Keg” – “The Iron-bound
Keg” – “The ice-covered Keg” that
sprouted in the cellar.
The towns, the hamlets, and the
countryside with its hills and
meadows, and the chicken dinners
that awaited us at the end of a
And every Inn and Roadhouse that
we in our cycling days knew, now
only fond and mellow memories for
me and for you.