Verdugo Views: The early days of the Elks

The group known as the Elks has been around since 1868. That’s when the first lodge was formed in New York City. Over the years, other Elks lodges were organized throughout the United States, and, as newcomers arrived in Glendale, they brought with them memories of good times in their old hometown lodges. By 1912, there were enough Elks around to form their own unit right here in Glendale.

The very first Elks group was inspired by an Englishman, Charles A. Vivian, who had been a successful comic singer in London. In 1867, he came to New York to try his fortune. His magnetic personality drew other performers to his circle of friends. By city law, pubs and bars were closed on Sunday, so Vivian and his friends formed a group to supply alcoholic beverages for their gatherings, calling themselves the “Jolly Corks.” The name was derived from a trick introduced by Vivian in which the uninitiated ended up buying a round of refreshments for the others, according to a national Elks website.

When one of their members died in 1867, the others banded together to help his widow and in doing so realized they needed a more enduring organization to serve those in need.

Shortly after, in 1868, they established the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Membership grew rapidly, as their social activities and benefit performances increased their visibility.

As members of the New York lodge traveled to other cities, they spread the word, and soon there were requests to form lodges in other cities. In response, in 1871, the Elks were chartered as a national organization, with the New York lodge designated #1.

In 1912, right here in Glendale, a number of Elks who were members in good standing in their hometowns, gathered to discuss the possibility of establishing a lodge in our then very young city. (Glendale had only been incorporated for six years.)

Their request was approved by the Grand Exalted Ruler of the national organization, and in October of that same year, officers of Los Angeles Lodge #99 instituted the Glendale lodge at a banquet at Casa Verdugo restaurant. They became Lodge #1289.

The lodge flourished, and by early 1913 there were 243 members. Within a year, another 176 people had joined, and the lodge continued to grow to the point that, in 1917, there were 737 members and a promise of more. Many of their meetings were held in the Central Building on Broadway.

By then, members had begun discussing a permanent home. After an extensive search, they purchased a site at 120 E. Colorado St. for $5,000, as noted in “Glendale Area History.”

Because of World War I, funding of the project was delayed, but L.C. Brand stepped in with financial assistance and they broke ground in 1917. The building was completed in early 1918.


Readers Write

Warren Westerholm of La Crescenta is writing an article about a woman driver in the 1930s. “I am trying to find out information about her. If I knew the date of her death, I could maybe find an obituary of her.” The object of his search is a woman named Lida Brady, who lived at 411 Lincoln Ave. in Glendale. “She did all her business with her automobile in Glendale. Every two years she made a trip back to Cincinnati.” Westerholm said he had searched the newspaper for the years 1934 to 1937 for information. “I did not find anything on her.”

Readers, if anyone has any tips for Westerholm, please contact me.

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