The story of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is a story that leads from Broadway, New York City, to Main Street, USA. It began in November of 1867 with the arrival of Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian to the city of New York. He was the 21-year-old son of an English clergyman and would do well in America as a singer and entertainer. His lasting fame, however, would be the founder of the Order of Elks in the United States of America.
The original group consisted of 15 members, all associated in some way with the theater. They called themselves the “Jolly Corks” with Vivian as their leader. Selection of a permanent name brought on great debate. Some suggested “Buffaloes” but that was rejected. It was not until some of the Jolly Corks visited Barnum’s museum and admired the head of a magnificent bull elk that a decision was reached. After a recommendation by an appointed committee, a vote was taken. Seven voted for “Buffaloes” and seven for “Elk”. One man switched, and February 16, 1868 the newly born Order was named “Elks”.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is a nonprofit fraternal association that is nonsectarian and nonpolitical. Today there are well over 1.3 million members in over 2,234 Lodges in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Canal Zone.
The Grand Lodge meets once a year in July at various locations across the nation to conduct the business of the Order and to install the Officers for the coming year. The Grand Lodge Secretary maintains an office in the Elks Memorial Building on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, Illinois.
The Bend Elks Lodge of Bend Oregon #1371
The Bend Elks Lodge #1371 was instituted in Bend Oregon on July 9, 1919, sponsored by The Dalles Lodge #303 with 58 charter members. Most of the Bend Lodge charter members were of The Dalles Lodge #303.The lodge was instituted by Dr. H.L. Toney of McMinneville, District deputy grand exalted ruler, assisted by Francis Galloway of The Dalles.
The meetings were held in the Bend Emblem Club Building, also known as the Masonic Hall (in pioneer days the A.M. Drake home, located on what is now Mirror Pond Parking Lot on Brooks St.). This building, a unique log structure, served as the local social hall and was the setting for the first installation of officers in 1919, E.P. Mahaffey was the first Exalted Ruler of the Bend Lodge. The first initiation of new members was a group of 100. The ceremony took place at the Bend Amateur Athletic Club Gymnasium (now the Boys & Girls Club).
The Bend lodge, in 1919, was the first formed in Oregon over a period of seven years and its jurisdiction included Deschutes, Jeffferson, Crook, and parts of Lake and Klamath counties.
When the Bend Furniture Store, located at 930 Wall Street (later Healy’s) was completed in 1921-22, the Bend Elks moved into their first home lodge. The upper floor of that building was the “Elks Temple”, and while the Elks Lodge owned the building, they later sold it to Healy’s who, later, sold the site to the First National Bank for a parking lot (now Wells Fargo, near the corner of Wall and Oregon Streets).
In 1929, during the Depression when the banks failed, the Lodge membership decreased to 238 members. The Lodge was in danger of losing its Charter, however the officers came up with a dice game of 4-5-6, with the participation of lodge members, the lodge and club were soon on a firm financial footing once again. At one time, the membership numbered 1,700.
In 1954, the Bend Elks completed the construction of a new lodge on Greenwood and Newport in downtown Bend. It was a beautiful lodge on the river.
On January 14, 1955 Grand Exalted Ruler William J. Jernick of Nutley, N.J., Exalted Ruler “Ken” Cale, Past Grand Exalted Ruler Frank J. Lonergan, Past State President Bill Stollmack were presiding dignitaries in the laying of the cornerstone at the dedication of the new Bend Lodge #1371. In April 1955 Leon Devereaux, Jr. was the first installed Exalted Ruler of the new lodge.
The Bend Lodge, over the years, has owned several properties in Central Oregon, which have links with other areas of Central Oregon history.
Charter member, Max Wurzweiler, owned what is now Black Butte Ranch and was instrumental in purchasing 10 acres at the head of the Metolius River for the Elks. Sam Johnson later acquired the property and it is now a park.
Charter member and Secretary, Joe Haner, bought the Camp Abbott site (now known as Sun River) for the Lodge, including the Great Hall (then known as the Officer’s Club). The Great Hall, with liquor license and “machines”, was managed by the Elks who held many lodge/club functions at the site for about ten years before selling the property to the Hudspeth’s of Crook County
Joe Haner, at a later date, donated 40 acres on the Deschutes River below Wickiup Reservoir to the Elks Lodge (to be called Haner Park) to be used by the members on a lease basis.
Early Lodge projects included the sponsorship of the University of Oregon Eye Clinic and the Bend baseball team and baseball games. Special events sponsored and implemented were the Flag Day Parades, Mirror Pond Pageant Queen and Princesses float.
Bend Lodge members also held rodeos in the 1930-40’s, which drew up to 10,000 in attendance and was held at O’Donnell Field (located near the intersection of Greenwood and Second Streets, now occupied by Miller Lumber Co.) for about 6-7 years before the facilities burned down.
The old Lodge, located on Greenwood owned by the Elks since 1954 had to be sold due to a lack of parking. The parking lot was leased from Pacific Power, which was sold to Scottish Power. Scottish Power went into negotiations with the Bend City Redevelopment Commission to sell the parking lot for $750,000. The Elks Lodge owned only 34 parking places. The Elks Lodge decided to sell the building due to the loss of the parking lot and proceeded to look for property to build a new lodge. After the sale of the Lodge the negotiations to sell the parking lot to the Redevelopment Commission fell through. Members of the Lodge, which included Don Gotcher, Susan Wise, Russ Van Beek, and Jim Graham looked at available property near the present lodge, but felt it was not suitable. Russ Van Beek saw the present property, which had a house on it. It was not for sale, but Russ knocked on the door and asked the owner if he was interested in selling to the Elks. The owner told Russ that since he was an Elk as well, he would agree to sell the property. The property was purchased but the construction did not proceed smoothly; a huge rock pile was located in the middle of the site and during construction, the price of steel doubled. Construction started in 2004 and was finished February 2005. March 2005 was the first meeting of the Lodge.
History compiled by Leon Devereaux, Dr. W.G. Manning, Homer Smith, George Fulton and early Elk members.