The men clustered on the makeshift platform in the accompanying photograph are taking part in an ages-old ritual: the laying of a cornerstone.
The cornerstone is the first block set in place in the foundation of a new building.
This cornerstone, laid on August 11, 1917, marked the start of a new home for Elks Lodge No. 1289.
The lodge was founded in 1912 when a group of local men got together. These were all men who had belonged to Elks lodges back in their former hometowns. Now they lived here, building new lives for themselves, and they yearned to create a new brotherhood here.
The 28 founders elected Peter L. Ferry as their first leader. Fraternal organizations such as the Elks were very popular in those days and the lodge grew quickly. By 1913, membership had increased to 243 and during their third year, with 419 members, they felt the time was right to have their own gathering place.
They found a large plot of vacant land with a 200-foot frontage on Colorado Street, near Brand Boulevard. “It was a very attractive location with thousands of automobiles passing daily on Colorado, a link in the famous foothill automobile road extending from Redlands to Santa Monica,” according to information provided by the lodge.
The architectural work was done by a member, Alfred F. Priest. He was a very active architect who designed many other buildings in Glendale.
The general contractor was another local man, G. W. Kent, while the plumbing was done by C. E. McPeek of Glendale and W. P. McArthur of Hollywood. The electric wiring contract went to Chobe and Naudain of Glendale and the heating and ventilation was installed by a Los Angeles firm.
Ernest A. Batchelder, who provided the tile for many of Glendale's new houses, supplied the tiles for the lodge.
The above history, compiled by Elks member Willis M. Kimball, was included in the building's 1918 dedication booklet. Kimball also wrote a tribute to those who had led the way.
“Beginning with Peter L. Ferry, whose energetic personality did so much for the lodge in its early days, then John W. Lawson, always willing to give of his best to forward the interest of 1289; then W. Herman West, the well beloved, now passed to the great beyond. What a pleasure it was to hear him so charmingly and dramatically perform his duties!
“Then Stephen C. Packer, whose genial personality and energetic work did so much to advance Glendale lodge on its road to prosperity, then George H. Melford, whose professional and other duties prevented him from being with us as much as we desired, but who generally aided in all matters for the ‘good of the order,' and last, our present exalted ruler, Albert D. Pearce, who to a marked degree combines the excellencies of all of his predecessors.”
The Elks moved into their new lodge in January, 1918, with some 200 members at the first meeting.
Don't go looking for the old lodge. It burned down in 1986. A new lodge was quickly built, however, and No. 1289 continues its good works at the same place it has been for so many years, at 120 East Colorado Street.