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Marker will recognize St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club’s role in tourism, population growth

Margie Manning

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Saturday's Preserve the 'Burg Expo will be held at the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club. Photo: City of St. Pete.

The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club’s contributions to the city’s history soon will be recognized with a  bronze plaque inside the building.

The Shuffleboard Club, at 559 Mirror Lake Dr., is the longest-running and largest shuffleboard club in the world, and is important to the city’s local history and heritage, according to the city’s Community Planning and Preservation Commission, which voted Tuesday to approve the plaque.

The club, established on Jan. 24, 1924, was designated as a local historic landmark in the St. Petersburg Register of Historic Places in 1994.

It began with the construction of several courts at the site on Mirror Lake, in 1923, and expanded throughout the 1920s and ’30s to include a clubhouse, grandstand, ballroom and equipment room, or “cue house,” as well as dozens of masonry shuffleboard courts, according to a report to the commission.

The earliest part of the clubhouse was designed by Harry Cunningham in 1927. Cunningham designed several other St. Petersburg buildings, as well as the Nebraska State Capitol buildings and the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The club’s buildings and structures added in the following years accommodated the city’s needs for recreational community space. The club not only served full-time residents but attracted winter residents from northern states, and helped cement St. Petersburg as a popular vacation spot in the early 20th century, the report said.

The city worked to recruit and entertain new full-time and part-time residents and tourists during the 1920s “land boom” and subsequent years leading up to World War II. “The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club is perhaps the most legible public reminders of this aspect of the city’s cultural history,” the report said.

The plaque is being sponsored by the St. Petersburg chapter of the National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century, an organization that has sponsored other historic markers throughout the city. The St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, a nonprofit organization that leases the city-owned building, has agreed to let the Colonial Dames place the plaque at the club.

A larger freestanding plaque outside the club was considered, but the smaller plaque inside was chosen for budgetary reasons, city staff told the commission.

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