The Carbon Athletic Club celebrates its 75th anniversary with a block party
It’s one of the oldest bars in town, but that’s still a mystery to many who have never been to Carbon Athletic Club.
It started as a social club for Hungarian and Polish immigrants over 100 years ago. In 1947, his clubhouse opened in the Carbon Works neighborhood of southwestern Detroit near Delray.
Today, anyone can visit and sit down for a cold as long as they’re with a current member, and anyone can become a member for a small annual fee of $30 (plus a processing fee of $20 for the first year).
On Saturday, the Carbon AC will host a 75th anniversary party and fundraiser beginning at 2 p.m. Detroit musicians will perform at the all-day party, including songwriters Don Duprie, Alison Lewis, Danny Kroha, Tony Paris & the Sugarburn, John Freeman and more.
Drinks will be flowing and food is provided by the Delray BBQ food truck. The indoor and outdoor party is cash only and non-members will need to pay $10 for a temporary membership. This money can go towards their annual membership if they choose to join.
So why a private club? It’s part of the history of the bar, which can be considered a destination for anyone interested in Detroit history or sports history. Current secretary MaryBeth Beaudry said the membership pool includes all kinds of people.
“At the start of the club it was just locals, then over many years it grew into a lot of people from Downriver, Sterling Heights… most of them are within a radius of 11 miles,” she said. . “But we even have people mailing in their annual membership checks from Florida and Colorado; they’re going to stick with it.”
However, for the club to continue for 75 years, it will need to keep recruiting new members, and Beaudry said she sees that happening.
“Lately we’ve seen a lot of young people here. We’re having these parties that bring in new faces and people are reaching out to us now that we’re on social media because for a long time we weren’t,” she said. “We have people contacting us saying my grandfather was a member, so I would like to become a member now, and they all bring their friends.
“So the new members we’ve had, they’re really stepping up and it’s kind of the changing of the guard, which is pretty cool.”
The train-adjacent bar itself has original terrazzo floors, dim lighting, and serves beers that appeal to grandfathers and hipsters alike, like Pabst Blue Ribbon, Black Label, and Miller High Life. Members enjoy shot-and-a-beer promotions for $4.
Beaudry said she spent the pandemic unearthing some of the team photos, trophies and other relics from Carbon AC storage that had been stowed away in the 1980s during a modernization effort. She polished them up and the mid-20th century artifacts are now proudly on display.