Reader Query – For the Historians, Anyone Ever Hear of a Place called the Maryland Athletic Club or Jimmy’s Place?

Question Mark on the Wall, originally uploaded by The [email protected].

“Dear PoP,

I am trying to research a gambling joint in the 1920s and the 1930s on Blandensburg Road by the name of the Maryland Athletic Club. It was run by Jimmy LaFontaine. The name of the place that everyone knew in the 20’s and 30’s was “Jimmy’s Place.” In other words, the legal name was the Maryland Athletic Club, but everyone knew it as Jimmy’s Place. Up to 600 people could gamble there at one time. It was the largest gambling house on the East Coast between New York and Miami. They played roulette, faro, and table games. It closed in 1947, and as I said, La Fontaine died in ’49.

[email protected]

Anyone know more about this spot?

6 Comment

  • Reminds me of Jimmy Valentines, although your wouldn’t fit 600 people in there.

  • I recall this place being mentioned in Jack Lait’s “Washington Confidential” which is out of print. I’ll have to dig up my copy when I get back home. Great little book about organized crime in 1950s DC, along with the “menace” of State Department homosexual communists!

  • Searches in the Historical Washington Post database for …

    lafontaine AND (“maryland athletic club” OR “jimmy’s place”)

    “jimmy lafontaine”

    … turn up quite a few articles (including the 1935 gem “Crime Overlords Fatten Here”.) If you’re in DC or Montgomery County, you have free access to it through the public library.

    Jimmy’s Place is mentioned on pg. 176 of Washington Confidential – it also gives a little background on LaFontaine’s earlier clubs (e.g. Glen Echo’s Mohican Club.) His 1949 obit is fairly detailed.

  • I found this from a google search so I assume you’ve seen it already but it’s really interesting:

  • Are you thinking of something that is or was called the Surf Club on Kenilworth Ave near Riverdale and Bladensburg? Never been there but knew people who would go there.

  • No, Chick Hall’s Surf Club was a hillbilly club that got popular in the 1950s and 60s.

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