I’ve wanted to see the Greensboro Police Club firsthand ever since I learned of its existence, years ago while listening to former officer AJ Blake talk at a press conference about what happened there one night. I drove by the entrance once —peering down the long gravel driveway into the secluded property tucked into the woods off Air Harbor Road — after fishing out in northwest Greensboro. I almost pointed my car down the driveway, and wondered what would happen if I flew a drone over the site, but ultimately figured the club would remain a mystery.
So when a legitimate reason to venture into the hidden venue presented itself in the form of a barbecue fundraiser, I seized the opportunity.
The Greensboro Police Club, described in a press release as a “private civic club” established in 1927, held its annual fall barbecue last week, raising money for several causes including the Special Olympics and police memorials. I showed up for the pork, slaw and beans, but I really just wanted to look around.
As you approach the club, a fenced-off shooting range is the first thing you see, with barrels set up down range. A little farther down, my friend Lamar and I pulled into a large parking area to the left, noticing a couple cars with Trump stickers and dog-training equipment in the adjacent grassy area. Towering deciduous trees provided some shade and color, and picnic tables dotted a seating area immediately next to the one-story club.
It’s hard to picture the Greensboro Police Club filled with drinking and dancing; it felt more like a mix between a campsite, city park picnic shelter and a humble church.
Big, deep couches take up part of the main room around one television, but two fireplaces on either end of the room are boarded up. There’s a full kitchen next to a dining area with white string lights ringing the top of the room. A police blanket hangs on one wall, drawings memorializing Sept. 11 and celebrating police officers line the main room, and there’s a trophy case full of sports awards near the front door, not far from a display dedicated to fallen officers.
But drinking and dancing certainly happen here, too — there’s a small wooden bar in the corner of the dining area with beer taps, a stereo and a popcorn machine that weren’t set up.
Most of the crowd who attended the fundraiser during lunchtime last week appeared to be officers, both current and retired, or at least friends. Save for another member of the press, nobody else spent any time checking the place out, either uninterested in what the yellow house with green shutters out back held or already familiar with the answers.
Lamar didn’t care much either, brushing me off as I mused that it looked like there was a basement under the main club building or observed what looked like a covered picnic area in the rear. He was more concerned with the cherry Mountain Dew we tried, or the incredibly vinegary barbecue sauce, or if he knew one of the officers sitting a few tables over.
I can sympathize with his disinterest, because the police club wasn’t exactly salacious. But we might’ve felt differently if we hadn’t shown up during a benign fundraiser — with the beer and music cut off — or in the light of day.
The Greensboro Police Club is located at 524 Air Harbor Road (GSO) but I don’t recommend showing up without an invite.