Pickwick Club

Contributors

The Pickwick Club was a social club formed in New Orleans on February 8, 1857 as a new social concept to celebrate Mardi Gras as well as to create a secret and exclusive membership that would keep the details of the Mardi Gras Carnival krewe, Mistick Krewe of Comus a mystery. [1]

History

In 1857, a group of gentleman who resided in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans decided to introduce a social club to New Orleans that would observe Mardi Gras and the Mistick Krewe of Comus. The specific gentlemen were from Mobile, Alabama, where they were members of a society called Cowbellion de Rakin Society, the earliest mythical organization known in the United States. The men were known as Cowbellions, and the society’s purpose was to celebrate the new year. As new residents of New Orleans, they decided to start another social club that would create culture, celebration, social activity, and new traditions. The gentlemen began to enlist friends and had 58 men at their first meeting. The social club was named The Pickwick Club. [2]

Naming

The Pickwick Club was named after a club that Charles Dickens had immortalized in his first novel, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. [3]
The novel, which is more frequently called The Pickwick Papers, is a collection of humorous adventure stories that do not necessarily correlate. The main character is Mr. Samuel Pickwick, and he is the founder of the club in the book. The statue of Mr. Samuel Pickwick was often found at the entrance of some of the locations of the New Orleans Pickwick Club. [4]

The Mistick Krewe of Comus

In Greek mythology, Comus was known as the God of festivities, celebrations, and revelry. In keeping with the spirit of social activity, the first gentlemen from Mobile who founded The Pickwick Club decided to also start a Mardi Gras krewe and name it Comus. The Mistick Krewe of Comus first rolled in 1957 and was a success. It became an annual event until it stopped parading in 1991. [5]

Secret Joint Associations

With the founding of both The Mistick Krewe of Comus and The Pickwick Club, membership in one group meant membership in the other. Most men who joined one group did not learn of the joint association until they became a member. [6]
Consequently, the atmosphere of secrecy and mystery amongst the societies began. The Pickwick Club was known as a “close” club (not to be confused with closed) which meant no outside members were allowed in. Events and activities were also kept from the outside including from newspapers and other sources. [7]
It was not until 1884 that members started inviting their wives, sisters, friends, and other family members as guests. [8]

Parting of Ways

By 1888, The Pickwick Club could no longer afford the traditional Comus krewe, ball, and maintenance of the club house. In addition, the societies were no longer seen as secretive as before due to events being posted in newspapers and guests entering the grounds of the club house. [9]
The Pickwick Club and The Mistick Krewe of Comus went on to exist separately. The Pickwick Club even stayed opened during The Civil War, and was the only social club in New Orleans to do so at the time. The Mistick Krewe of Comus continued to hold its parade during Mardi Gras. [10]

Homes of The Pickwick Club

The Pickwick Club has had many locations throughout the city of New Orleans since its existence. They include:
1. Tchoupitoulas Street just above Poydras Street 1857-January 1858
2. No. 57 St. Charles Street, just beyond Gravier Street 1858-1865
3. The corner of Canal and Exchnage Alley Streets 1865-1881
4. Canal Street (Today, is 824 Canal Street)1881-1882
5. The corner of Canal and Carondelet Streets 1882-1894
6. No.4 Carondelet Street 1894-1899
7. 1028 Canal Street 1899-1934 [11]

New Orleans Media and Cultural Production

The Pickwick Club was an elite social club comprised of rich white men. It served as a place that held balls, lunches, exquisite dinners, and was defined as “one of the finest traditions of New Orleans.” Its events and social activities were produced in newspapers in the late 18th century and throughout the 20th century. The newspaper clippings served as a story about a place that only the privileged could go to. The secrecy that first surrounded the club as well as its exclusivity was a symbol and reminder of the wealthy life in New Orleans before the Civil War. Social clubs held reputable members who partied with the best and due to their wealth, they enjoyed things outside of the club as well, such as the opera, carnival, and hotels. Overall, The Pickwick Club helped create a cultural production of carnival events during Mardi Gras, dinners and balls for wealthy men and their guests, and it was a location where krewes passed during Mardi Gras. The culture of festivity, revelry, and celebration remains in the social clubs of New Orleans today.

Works Cited

  • The Pickwick Club Historical Summary, Act of Incorporation, By-laws, Roster of Membership (New Orleans: 1929),1 (There is no author or publication company; most likely created by a member of The Pickwick Club. Can be found at NOPL in the LA collections.)
  • Augusto P. Micelli, The Pickwick Club of New Orleans, (New Orleans: Pickwick Press, Hauser Printing CO. 1964),1-2.
  • Augusto P. Micelli, The Pickwick Club of New Orleans, (New Orleans: Pickwick Press, Hauser Printing CO. 1964),3.
  • Augusto P. Micelli, The Pickwick Club of New Orleans, (New Orleans: Pickwick Press, Hauser Printing CO. 1964),3.
  • Augusto P. Micelli, The Pickwick Club of New Orleans, (New Orleans: Pickwick Press, Hauser Printing CO. 1964),4.
  • Augusto P. Micelli, The Pickwick Club of New Orleans, (New Orleans: Pickwick Press, Hauser Printing CO. 1964),4.
  • Augusto P. Micelli, The Pickwick Club of New Orleans, (New Orleans: Pickwick Press, Hauser Printing CO. 1964),4.
  • Augusto P. Micelli, The Pickwick Club of New Orleans, (New Orleans: Pickwick Press, Hauser Printing CO. 1964),5.
  • Augusto P. Micelli, The Pickwick Club of New Orleans, (New Orleans: Pickwick Press, Hauser Printing CO. 1964),5.
  • Augusto P. Micelli, The Pickwick Club of New Orleans, (New Orleans: Pickwick Press, Hauser Printing CO. 1964),10.
  • Augusto P. Micelli, The Pickwick Club of New Orleans, (New Orleans: Pickwick Press, Hauser Printing CO. 1964),13-15.

This page was last modified on 03 May 2012, at 11:38

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Pickwick Club

Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA

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Pickwick Club

1028 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

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Pickwick Club

100 Carondelet St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA

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Pickwick Club

300 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA

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Pickwick Club

Canal St & Exchange Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA

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Pickwick Club

824 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

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Pickwick Club

Canal St & Carondelet St, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA