The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was formally organized on February 16, 1868 in New York City, the offspring of an informal group of actors calling themselves "The Jolly Corks." Its declared purpose then and now is to practice the four cardinal principles of our order: Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity. In the waning years of the nineteenth century Elks Lodges proliferated across the nation providing a place for men of that time to gather socially, help each other and support various charitable causes. In January,1891 a group of Savannanians headed by James Shaw, who had recently moved to Savannah, petitioned the Grand Lodge for a charter that was granted on January 16, 1891. Mr. J. H. Hunter was elected the first Exalted Ruler. Savannah Lodge 183 is the third oldest continuously operating Elks Lodge in the State of Georgia. The Lodge met at its Bull and Congress Streets location until 1908, when it purchased the mansion at 12 West Oglethorpe Ave for $20,000. The house had been built for Bernie Gordon, the brother of Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Lowe; Mr. Gordon died before the house could be completed and the Elks became the first occupant. On December 15, 1919 the Lodge was incorporated as a non-profit organization. During the 1970's membership had declined and the population had shifted away from downtown Savannah. This, combined with a desire to shift to a more family-oriented image, resulted in the purchase of the Wilshire Estates Shalimar Country Club on Wilshire Boulevard with 4.9 acres of property and an Olymipic-sized swimming pool. Plans were drawn up for a new 11,350 square foot building and when the old Lodge was finally sold to the Montessori School, ground was broken and construction completed in February 1981. Since then we have increased our bar and dining room by 1500 square feet and added 1000 square feet of storage. In February 1991 the Lodge voted unanimously to accept the ladies Aidmore Auxiliary as the Auxiliary of the Savannah Lodge. In March 1996 we initiated our first female member and in 2007 installed it first female Exalted Ruler, Anne Mueller. The Order of Elks is an intensely patriotic organization, and with our proximity to Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air field we have had a long association with our country's military. Many military retirees have become members. As all Elks we try to make a difference in our community, state and country.