District No. 6560

History of Rochester Lodge #24

By Dick Brock
Lodge Historian

Rochester Lodge #24, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, was instituted under dispensation January 4,1884 by Brother Thomas Keene, Special District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler. He was assisted by members from New York Lodge #1, Philadelphia Lodge # 2, Baltimore Lodge #7, Providence Lodge #14 and Cleveland Lodge #18.

On January 6,1884 George F. Loder was elected Exalted Ruler.
The Lodge held its first social session at the New Osborne House, March 2, 1884 in honor of a visit from Grand Secretary Arthur C. Moreland. This session had left an indelible impression upon those fortunate enough to be present, and when referred to, recalled fond memories of a pleasant past. Mark Twain took part in the program.

The charter was received December 13, 1885. The lodge met for the first year at the New Osborne House. The next three years rooms in the Butts Building on State Street and answered as a meeting place. Then the Damascus Temple, in the Reynolds arcade was leased. Here the lodge remained for a term of six years.

Rochester Elks Lodge remained leasing space at the Damacus Temple in the Reynolds Arcade building until December 31st 1893. During this last period the membership became increased enough to warrant more roomy quarters  and moved to the Scottish Rite Consistory Hall at 77 West Main Street which proved very unpopular with the members and the membership fell off until it was deemed expedient to change.

From Consistory Hall, the lodge moved to #8 South Water Street for a period of three years. The Taylor building on Front Street was selected in 1897 and remained there until 1904 when a change was again made to the National Theater Building until March 31st 1909.

In 1908/1909 the lodge purchased the handsome Eureka Club Building at 113 Clinton Ave. North.    Even this building became inadequate and it became necessary to build an addition. Two pieces of property adjoining the original club-house site on the north were purchased during the year of 1922. In May 1923 the plans for the addition to the club were practically approved and October, 1923 the contract for the excavation was let. The addition to the building on Clinton Avenue was made starting in 1924 and dedicated in 1927. This became our home until March 1959. The Clinton Avenue location was sold due to excessive cost for maintenance and necessary repairs.
Temporary quarters were obtained by renting the Union League Club House on Gregory Street and plans were made to acquire land for a new home on property at South Avenue and Caroline Street.  The entire transaction of the sale of the property at 113 North Clinton, the purchase of the property at South Ave. and Caroline Street, the plans for the building and its construction was handled entirely by the Elks Home Building Association. consisting of  Maury I. Purvin, President--Max Cohen, Vice-President; Frank M. Miller, Secretary--Sol Engel, Treasurer and Directors--Joseph G. D'aprile--Ben Gudinas--Edwin Bassett--Fred Megerle--Nicholas C. Teddy--William Woods--Earl J. Webber--William J. Beckler and Clarence Krembel.

The new Elks Lodge, Rochester Lodge #24 at the corner of South Avenue and Gregory Street was officially dedicated on June 20th 1964. The ER at the time of the ground breaking was Earl J. Webber and the ER During the Dedication was William J. Beckler. The previous ER was Frank M. Miller. The other officers at the time of dedication were, John Cook, Tiler; William Schnurr ll, Inner Guard; Sol Engel, Treasurer; Marvin Drake, Loyal Knight; Robert Byrnes, Leading Knight; and Richard Brown, Lecturing Knight.

Some of the sponsors and supporters of the new home, were, Wolcott Elks Lodge #1763, Rochester Bottling Co. Perrys Flower Shop, Hoffend & Sons, Happy Acres Golf, Irondequoit Elks Lodge #2054, Scobell Chemical Co. Schrader's Meat Products (Dutch Maid Sausage Products) The Rascal Cafe, Charlotte Appliances, John M. Forester Co., Rochester Moose Lodge #113, Republican County Committee, Bastian Bros, Pepsi Cola and Coca-Cola Bottling Co's. The new Lodge opened with a fine lounge, sitting area, bowling lanes, a spacious dining area, a lodge room and banquet area and of course, a comfortable bar and grill. Jerry Guidoni was a mixologist with the Elks for 20 years.

Here are some more sponsors of our lodge when it was dedicated June 24th 1964 on the corner of South Ave. and Gregory Streets.

Batavia Elks Lodge #950, Greece Lodge #2016, Schwalb Coal and Oil Co. Maplecrest Sausage, Chase-Pitkin Home Center, Corbett Funeral Homes, Anthony (Gimp) Wegman, Davidson Collision, O'Connell Electric Co., Hires Turner Glass C0., Thomas F. Trott and Joseph F. Trott Funeral Home, RG&E, Lake Beverage, Conti Packing Co., Veteran Grill (Tony & Sons) Miller Funeral Home, Blanchard Florist, Colonie Lodge #2192, Grays Carpet, Lang Trophies, Lauterbach Hardware, Bill Halls Gulf Service, Noah's Ark, Rochester German Club, Brockport Lodge #2110, Rochester Bowling Supply, Canandaigua Lodge #1884, Tobins (First Prize), Watervliet Lodge #1500, Newark Lodge #1249, Penn-Yan Lodge #1722, Deckers Dairy, and First Federal Savings.

The Elks Lodge #24 had a great bunch of people and sponsors for their grand opening in the South Ave. and Gregory St. Location. I hope to have a complete list of all the Exalted Rulers of Rochester Lodge# 24 (since its institution) from
1884 up to our present time. We will move on to review the newest "Rochester ELKS LODGE" in Henrietta at the first of the New Year. Merry Christmas to all and a happy NEW YEAR.

The Rochester Elks Lodge ground breaking ceremony in Henrietta took place on June 17th, 1989. John Tracy was ER at the time. The dedication of our new home took place on November 17th. 1990. Duane Amundson was ER at that time. The first elected ER that served a full term in our new Henrietta lodge for the first full year of opening was Tom Moore.

We have had three Members of our lodge go on to become State Presidents, D. Curtis Gano, 1928, Harry R. Darling in 1942, and George M. Swalbach in 1949.

Three Past State Vice Presidents attending during our Dedication were, Robert Sutorious 1980/81, Dave Silvernail 1982/83 and Robert Williams 1987/88.

The history for the colors originally chosen for the Elks organization were designated as: Royal, Purple, and White. A combination deriving for its origin from the history of the Clergy, Nobility and the People.

Question to me from George Wambold, he found this question in the D&C crossword puzzle, "What was the original animal chosen of our organization'? Ask George

The following page is the complete list (as I know it to be) of all of the Exalted Rulers of Rochester Elks Lodge #24, from 1884 until the present.

Henrietta town supervisor, Jim Breeze, the Larson Engineering Groups, and Elk officers were on hand for the official ground breaking ceremony for our new Elks Lodge #24, on June 17th 1989 and the dedication was held five months later. The bar area appears to be the first area that was actually used and it amazingly appeared to be fully stocked with plenty of VO. (hard to believe) The kitchen was a great open and roomy area but the basement was not completely finished for a number of years.

Congratulations and good luck memo's to our lodge were sent by: Webster-Fairport Lodge #2396, Lyons Lodge #869, Gray's Carpeting, three Past State Vice Presidents, Robert Sutorious 80-81, David Silvernail 82-83 and Robert Williams 87-88.  Also from five Past District Deputies, George Badgerow 64-65, Ken Weil 75-76, Robert Gillette 78-79, Robert Sutorious 82-83 and William Goddard 87-88. (Guess who the VO was for) Also good luck from; Seneca Falls Lodge #992, The Market Mall, B.R. DeWitt Concrete, Auburn Elks #474, Raymond Swallow-Insurance, Thelma Elver-B.P.O. Does #104, Ken and Deloris Weil, Jack and Linda Flannery, Albion Lodge #1006 and Endicott Lodge #1977.    Thanks to everyone, our lodge has continued to grow and prosper since our grand opening.. We are unique for having the greatest group of volunteers that help keep our lodge continuously open as well as serving the greatest selection of foods that can be found in any of the upscale restaurants. 

The Installation of new officers for the 1992/1993 season was held on March 28th 1992. Incoming officers were, Marty Sullivan/ Exalted Ruler, Dan Dittman/Leading Knight, Bob Brodman/Loyal Knight, Norm Webel/Lecturing Knight, Bill Goddard/Secretary, Dick Grozowski/Treasurer, (I believe that John Koenig took over for Dick Grozowski sometime during this year) and Ray Swallow/Tiler. The trustees were Bob Quinlan, Pete Chatell, Don Silvernail, John Tracey and Ken Weil. The appointees were: Esquire/Sam Musso then Lee Webber, Inner Guard/Linus Rautenstrauch and Chaplain/Pat Gaffney.

The 1992/1993 season was a busy, interesting and fun time at our lodge. Some examples are; Dan Dittman and Don Silvernail ran a ADOPT-A-TOILET fundraiser to get enough money to finish off the "Bucks" and "Does" toilets in the basement. They estimated that they needed $426 for a Handicap toilet, $175 for a Regular toilet, $180 for a sink and $215 for a urinal. They must have done very well, We have at least two of everything. Also Gerry Blier and team ran the Euchre Tournaments, Linus Rautenstrauch ran the calendar project, donations of old eyeglasses. He picked up over 50 pair that were donated to, NEW EYES FOR THE NEEDY INC., Our Elks dues went from $50 to $60 per year plus the Grand Lodge per captia insurance assessment. Pennies were collected/donated by our members and friends for the HOME SERVICE PROGRAM for CEREBRAL PALSY. As of March 10th 1993 we had collected 54,966 pennies. (plus)

The Christmas party that year was a major success. We were packed. This party was co-chaired by Lee Webber and Dick Brock. Our biggest "OOPS" mistake was selling tickets to everyone right up to the last minute and we exceeded our capacity. We packed them in like sardines. We ran out of tables, chairs, food etc. We had to send people downstairs to eat at the bar. (They had more fun than the people upstairs) they had all the room. But the party(s) lasted until the wee hours of the morning and everyone eventually enjoyed themselves.  I think I got home sometime around New Years Day.

Lessons were learned and passed on.  The lodge (chairpersons) since that time limits the number of tickets being sold to accommodate our designated capacity and limits. We made mistakes, we learned by those mistakes and we passed them on to help future volunteers schedule their activities.  Also remember, "No one can do everything, but everyone can do something." 

The years of 1993/1994 and 1995/1996 were ambitious and fun times at our lodge. From ER's Dan Dittman (1993) to Norm Webel (1994) to Don Schirtz (1995) and Bill Campbell (1996) we hosted a number of major events.

We held our first Golf Giveaway on May 16th 1993 and for ten dollars you had a chance to win: 4 Sets of Custom Clubs (PING/845), 2 Sets of Maxfli Tour LTD, 2 Sets of PING ZING COPY, MaxFli Tour, Tommy Armour, Kunnan and Spaulding Legacy Gold Golf sets.

We also held Hole-in-one and putting contests and raffle tickets. It also came with free beer, hotdogs and Pop.
Another major activity was the NYS Bowling Tournament in April of 1994. This tournament was jam packed with bowlers, eaters, drinkers (soda/pop of course) and the casino nights were a huge success. This ran very smooth with the great teams of volunteers and the shuttle drivers hauling the bowlers back and fourth from the bowling establishments, to the lodge and to their hotels. We hosted this event Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays on April 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23 and April 24th. It was a great time and a lot of fun, of course, God, (Goddard) was watching over everything.
Chicken BBQ's, picnics, clambakes, etc filled the lodge, and that happened without computers, IPods and no cell phones, how did we ever manage? We did have a telephone in the lodge but you had to put a quarter in a cup if your call wasn't for lodge business and sometimes you had to wait for the line for some guy explaining why he was late for supper. Ha. We did have a decent TV that had to be moved up or downstairs depending on the activities. All in all, a lot of fun.

One of the Elk pamphlets I ran across read "The Elk Membership offers that relaxation and freedom from care which Doctors tell us is absolutely necessary for men living today under the stress and strain of modern life" How true and that was only 15 years ago.

The years of 1997 thru 2000 gave us a great bunch of ER's.
Chris Maier in 1997, Bill Swisher in 1998, Tom Hohler in 1999 and Don Schirtz (again) in 2000. There were many very good achievements during these years. The lodge almost doubled the Grand Exalted Ruler's goal of $3.50 per capita for the National Foundation. The kitchen facility was improved, the interior of the lodge was painted, a new black top parking lot was put in, as well as a new deer hide stand and the area around the pavilion was also improved.

Tom Hohler was instrumental in new youth activities starting, such activities as: becoming partners with the Henrietta Youth Activities Council and their Asset Building/Red Ribbon Program. The Lodge also started the youth Fishing Derby, Yo-Yo Contests, Junior Golf Tournament (we had two state champions) Teen-Senior Citizen Luncheon Dance along with the Soccer Shoot and the Hoop Shoot.

Our kitchen was redone with stainless steel paneling and was kept immaculate by Tom and Dodie Hohler. Showing the kitchen to our new applicants was one of our favorite places to show off. During these years the bar was getting busier and the dining room and the parties were starting to gain momentum. We had our first wine tasting session in 1999, given by Bob and Todd Quinlan, it was very informative and enjoyable even though we had a low member turn out. We also held our first Super-Bowl-Party-Pig-Roast with free draft beer for ten dollars. The hoop shoot and the soccer shoot was run by Don Silvernail and crew. Bob Heimes became one of our youngest Lecturing Knights. Bob Snyder, Bill Farley, Don Schirtz and Bill Simek sold almost all the fund raiser calendars for 1999/2000.

We had a cast of colorful "Exalted Rulers" during the years of 2001 thru 2004.Lou Erbach (2001), Steve Webel (2002), Jim Miller (2003) and Laroy Burgess (2004).

Many new activities added and some old were improved. During these fun years we lost many old friends and valuable members but we also gained many new members that volunteered to help around the lodge. We had snow storms and ice storms that cancelled out a few activities. We had one ER that lost one of his" Bricks" (and a few marbles).

Lou Erbach introduced some of his "Luscious Lou's drinks and meals. Steve Webel hosted many "meat loaf dinners" (Thanks to his mother, Loretta) Jim Miller, What can I say about Jim Miller that hasn't already been said. (Thanks Jim)   Laroy Burgess introduced many special dinners and parties. Laroy dressed in colorful shirts and speckled pants and wore a polka-dot head piece when he cooked. Laroy also went on to become a State Vice-President for the Elks. (It must have been the colorful outfits he wore).

The lodge held many parties and activities. We held cleaning and painting weekends that consisted of many laughs and a cocktail or two. Everyone that volunteered worked hard  to keep our lodge continuously open for all the members. The kitchen was booming and was offering a varied assortment of old style and gourmet meals.

Jan Dewolf (2005/6) and John Wolfe (2006/7) are next in a line in my history column.

Jan Dewolf was instrumental in running many popular activities, ie horseshoes and turkey bowling. During ER Jan DeWolf's term there was also the fun activities of NASCAR Parties, Cinco de Mayo and Karaoke Nights (Steve Taney and NY/NY) Jan was also the key ingredient for our Adopt-a highway program.

John Wolfe was the only ER that had a Boeing 737 go back to the dock, after it taxied away from the Rochester International Airport (for our Bahamas Vacation)  to pick him up because he was late. After John arrived at the airport, he had to drive back home because he forgot a minor detail,... his passport. During ER John Wolfe's term we had our First Music Festival, July 23. 2006 that was a major successful activity. John as also very supportive and active in all of the youth activities.

There were too many activities during those times to correctly report and give credit to all the right people. My memory fades (after the first beer) but I know that there are credits that should be recognized and credited to more of the other volunteers.

I tend to pick on our PER'S but in reality the ones that I got to know over the past twenty years are all fine, caring, generous, conscientious and hard working individuals. During Jan DeWolf's term he also had the Casino trips, Chicken BBQ's and  actually accomplished many fun (and costly) activities. These PER'S  have donated many thousands of volunteer hours, and also gave generously to the cause.

I cannot close out this chapter without giving my/our utmost gratitude to the all the wives/ladies and family members who also worked very hard and encouraged them on, as well as accompanying them on their many excursions for the Elks activities and charities.  We thank you all.

Ken Maul (2007/2008) and Dave Porter (2008/2009) are the last of the PER's, to have served Rochester Elks Lodge #24 as Exalted Rulers (up until now). These two men were very popular with the members and well liked through out the district. Although very different in stature and structure they could have played the Laurel and Hardy characters and usually did by utilizing their own brand of humor.
When Ken Maul was in the running for the ER position, he vowed to clean up our lodge and he did keep his promise, he eventually took over the janitorial duties.
Dave Porter created the term "Elevator Chili" It happened while he was transporting a batch of chili downstairs, he placed the chili on the elevator and was some how distracted to the bar. They found the chili on the elevator a few days later.

There were so many activities and specials going on during their terms that I am only able to gather a few. Steaks were cooked every other Tuesday by John Wolf. Horseshoes, bean bag, darts, ham and clock raffle, roof raffle, Apryl's delicious homemade pierogies, Luscious Lou's BBQ Chicken, Simek's successful prime rib dinners, Harriett's spaghetti dinners also, Simek, Taney and Rich Sharpe for running all day specials for St. Patty's day, Diane Wolfe's steak dinners, Bret's lasagna, three stooge comic day, member appreciation days, NASCAR parties, VA activities, Mardi Gras, Clam Sundays and many other breakfast, luncheon, and dinner specials. Russ Whalley's entertainment, and many other activities that I hope to address in the upcoming months.

These two PER's were very instrumental in keeping our lodge on top and making it one of the best in the whole state of NY. Being well liked and having their organizational skills made our lodge even more prosperous. Of course they had a great list of officers and volunteers that were behind them all the way and of course I give a large (HUGE!!!!!) share of the lodge prospering to their wives (Betty and Liz) who were always at their sides and helping in every way possible.

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