The Commercial Club and the Community

The Dayton’s Bluff Commercial Club was started in 1905 to provide a place for social exchange and community leadership. The clubhouse at 770 East Seventh Street was built for meetings and socializing for the area’s professional class. Later expansions added bowling lanes, private dining rooms, a men’s smoking room, a billiard area, as well as a banquet hall and dance floor.

The Commercial Club often spoke on behalf of the community and undertook a number of local initiatives. In 1909 they published a booklet entitled Picturesque Dayton's Bluff. In it, they discussed "the wonderful strides in material progress" that had been made in the area. There were photos of many area businesses and industries around East Seventh and the nearby homes of their owners. According to the booklet, “the many advantages offered on Dayton's Bluff are attracting home builders and residents” and over 700 new houses were going to be built.

The Commercial Club was involved in many activities in its early years. It had raised money for the erection of a ski slide in Indian Mounds Park. The organization launched an “industrial expansion project” to “encourage the establishment of industries in the East District. An energetic Women’s Auxiliary held many events including many “canned goods parties” to give food to charities. Large crowds also came to their annual picnics.

The Commercial Club shifted away from involvement in civic and economic matters after World War Two. The members were no longer the wealthy, but more of a cross section of the neighborhood. The leadership of the group had slowly shifted to small businessmen. It continued as a location for neighborhood events, including community sings, wrestling matches and wedding receptions. The annual bowling banquet after "pin season" was eagerly awaited by the community. Hundreds of people came to Commercial Club events such as musicals and vaudeville acts.

There were commercial clubs in many Saint Paul neighborhoods, but they slowly faded away. The Dayton’s Bluff Commercial Club was one of the few that hung on and continued to have members into the 1970’s. Since it closed, the building has often been empty, but has been sold from time to time. In the late 1970’s it was owned by a man who raised wholesale fish bait there and dubbed it “Worm City.” Most recently it has served as the meeting place for an Ethiopian Church.