Pleasure Club of FiumedinisiBy Clair Garman
In the middle of Sligo Creek Park, above University Boulevard, there are a number of building structures in ruin. For the exact location, browse to the MAP and move your mouse over the red hot link closest to the bottom of the map.
Research has developed the following information.
In 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.
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 Pleasure Club of Fiumedinisi was a men's club. Membership was restricted to the men who had immigrated. When they died, membership was conferred on the oldest son, following the Sicilian tradition. The club was active through the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. In 1963, planning for the proposed North Central Freeway to connect I70 with downtown DC forced the sale of the land. The club met for several years in home and other locations, but enthusiasm waned and the organization was dissolved in 1970.
Fiumedinisi is located in the mountains of Sicily southwest of Messine, the northeastern most point of Sicily. In the map of the region, Fiumedinisi is marked with a red oval. Fiume means "river" in Italian. It is assumed that "Nisi" is a proper name and that Fiumedinisi means River of Nisi.
Cliff Sayre of 1415 Ladd Street reports:
The Fiumedinisi Club was still active when I moved in during the early 1950's. You can see the remnants of the road up to their parking lot on the slope near the backyard of the first house on Inwood. The club was becoming less used and they rented the building and grounds out to other groups for 4th of July, Labor Day, etc.
Collapsed Steel Structure
Stone Water Well
The trash in the site might give some clue to its history. Amid the beer bottles and general litter, there are old bottles and interesting trash.