|Dallas # 71||Elks Lodge|
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The Dallas Elks Lodge was chartered August 1, 1888, just twenty years after the founding of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in New York. There were 156 names on this original charter. Since that beginning there have been over 100 Exalted Rulers (Lodge Presidents), including Federal Judge W.H. Atwell, who also served the Order of Elks as Grand Exalted Ruler (National President) in 1925-26. Eight members of the Dallas Lodge have held the office of President of the Texas Elks State Association (TESA), most recently brother Bob Finch in 2007-08.
The first meetings of our Lodge were held at 813 Main Street. Later, our first dedicated Lodge building was located at the corner of Ervay and Pocahontas Streets. One early achievement was the establishment of an official section for deceased Elks at Oak Grove Cemetery. This section is still in place, marked by a large granite slab with a brass “Elks Rest” plaque on it.
The Elks National Convention was first held in Dallas in 1908. The City constructed a four-way arch of structural steel at Main and Akard, topped by a large statue of an elk. A large downtown parade kicked off the proceedings. In ensuing years, entire trains would be chartered to transport Dallas Elks to national and state conventions, some as far away as Portland, Oregon.
In 1923 the Lodge moved to a new three-story home at 1515 Commerce Street. Supported by almost 2,000 members, the Lodge was the outstanding dining and entertainment center of those days. Among others, Lawrence Welk often provided music for the dancing enjoyment of Elks and their guests.
During this era, a government safety net did not exist so the charitable function of Elks and other fraternal orders was the only source of help for individuals and families encountering hard times.
The Dallas Lodge moved to its third location at 2012 Commerce Street in 1938. It was still the prime entertainment center of downtown Dallas with dances, bridge games and minstrel shows available throughout the year. During World War II, the Lodge was presented with many awards for assisting servicemen and actively recruiting for the armed forces. Starting in the 50’s several athletic programs were established including basketball and swimming tournaments. Even today the Lodge supports the Lake Highlands cross-country and baseball tournaments.
In 1963 and 64 the Lodge built and occupied a new facility on Greenville Avenue. The Lodge thrived at this excellent location which included a large swimming pool. We established regular visits to the VA Hospital to help and entertain the vets undergoing treatment. We participated in the TESA children’s hospital and summer camp near Gonzales. Major commercial development in the Greenville corridor increased the market value, and property taxes, of our location there so in 1983 we sold and built the present facility on Lullwater Drive in the gracious Lake Highlands area.