District No. 9120

Norfolk Lodge 38 History

Elks Lodge #38 Lodge History



In the Year 2011, Norfolk Lodge No. 38 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, USA, celebrated its 125th Anniversary.

On the 15th day of November 1885, a meeting was held in the City of Norfolk for the purpose of organizing Norfolk Lodge No. 38, B.P.O.E.

Frank L. Slade presided at this meeting and after the objectives of the Order were explained, the session adjourned to meet again on the 29th of November 1885. On that date, 37 men meeting in a room, the use of which was shared with the Pickett-Buchanan Camp of Confederate Veterans, in the Old Academy of Music Building, which stood for many years on the site of the present Selden Arcade, instituted Norfolk Elks Lodge No. 38, and petitioned the Grand Lodge for a charter. This charter was granted at the "Twenty-Second Communication" of the Grand Lodge, December 12, 1886 – 38th Session – eighteen years after the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was organized on February 16, 1868. The membership in Elkdom was 5,511.

The 37 charter members included men from all walks of life…trades, crafts, and professions. Our first Exalted Ruler, Frank L. Slade, had been elected City Sergeant for the City of Norfolk and held that office throughout his term as Exalted Ruler. Three years later, in 1889, Mr. Slade was appointed Postmaster of the City of Norfolk, a position he held until 1892 when he retired from public life and returned to his private business which was the wholesale peanut business. 

At the conclusion of his term as Exalted Ruler, Brother Slade was presented with a gold, diamond studded Exalted Ruler’s Jewel whish he in turn presented to the Lodge.  It was worn by every Exalted Ruler who succeeded him for almost the next seventy-five years until the current set of jewels were presented to the Lodge Officers by the Ladies Auxiliary in 1959.

Officers of the original charter group were:

Frank L. Slade, Exalted Ruler (1886-1889)

H. E. Chase, Esteemed Leading Knight, a carpenter and building contractor

H. P. Waller, Esteemed Loyal Knight, a clerk

Frank H. White, Esteemed Lecturing Knight, a carpenter

T. J. Arrington, the Secretary, a reporter for the morning newspaper, then called "THE VIRGINIAN"

Frank H. Kamp, the Treasurer, was the Agent and Superintendent of the Dismal Swamp Canal Company, which in those days was quite important to local commerce

A. G. Gale, the Esquire, a clerk in the family's prominent jewelry store and later manager of several small hotels in the city

E. M. Allen, the Chaplain, a blacksmith

T. D. Church, the Tiler, a painter by trade

John Trudewind, Trustee, operated a poolroom and saloon

Miles W. Jenkins, Trustee, a bill poster and operated a laundry business

    When Esteemed Leading Knight Chase succeeded Exalted Ruler Slade at the end of the latter’s term, a custom was established of having a different Exalted Ruler each year. This custom was breached on only one occasion when in 1918, the then Esteemed Leading Knight, John R. Loughran, declined to run for election as Exalted Ruler because of ill health. The immediate Past Exalted Ruler, James H. Watters was persuaded to permit his name to be placed in nomination to succeed himself as was elected without opposition. This is the only instance in the history of the Lodge in which an Exalted Ruler has been elected to serve for two terms.

From its inception, the Lodge held its meetings every Sunday at 3:00 P.M. in the Old Academy of Music Building on Main Street. Due to burgeoning membership, a larger facility was needed. Property on College Place was obtained in 1903 and a Lodge Room with dance hall below was completed in 1905. It is interesting to note that in order to meet building expenses, 200 Life Memberships were sold for 100 dollars per member. Meetings were then moved to this site and were changed to Tuesday evenings at 8:00 P.M. This lasted until the beginning of the 1988-1989 Lodge year when meetings were changed to the first and third Tuesdays of the month.

 In a patriotic gesture, during WWI, the Norfolk Elks loaned their facilities to the U.S. Navy for an Officers Club. These were returned in 1919. During that year after we resumed the use of our club and social quarters, on June 2nd, during the administration of Brother Frank A. Evans, who had been Secretary of the Lodge for about 10 years before he was elected Exalted Ruler, the Lodge initiated its largest class – 150 members at one time. A special dispensation had to be obtained before this could be done. Brother Evans was the first Exalted Ruler who did not work his way up through the chairs before being elected Exalted Ruler.

The Second World War saw a tremendous upsurge in membership and the Lodge swelled to 1,700 Brothers. Although changes were made to the College Place facilities during the 1950’s, it was apparent that a new building and grounds were needed in order to allow for family participation and for our Ladies, who are an important part of our activities. The Ladies Auxiliary was formed on March 15th, 1957.  It has taken a very active part in social and other affairs of the Lodge and has rendered valuable assistance financially and otherwise.

In the early 1960’s, Lodge membership was about 1130 Brothers. On January 3, 1966, a six-acre plot bordering on Broad Creek – our present Typo Avenue location was purchased. In July 1966, the Lodge home on College Place was sold to the Norfolk Serviceman’s Club, Inc., and the Lodge moved into temporary headquarters in Norfolk’s venerable Commodore Maury Hotel where they stayed until July 31, 1968.  On August 4, 1968, the new Lodge building was occupied and on August 4, 1981, Norfolk Lodge burned the mortgage on its Typo Avenue home.

In keeping with changes mandated by the courts and Grand Lodge Statutes, Norfolk Lodge No. 38 initiated its first Lady Elk members in 1996 and enjoyed the reputation of having the first lady Exalted Ruler, Janet R. Labarge, in the state and one of only three in the nation in the 1998-1999 year. In the face of declining membership and lack of participation by older paid-up members, somber reflection and meditation find it difficult to perceive how Lodge affairs and responsibilities could have been met these last few years without the input and effort of our new-found and most welcome "brethren".

Through the years, Norfolk Lodge No. 38 continues to quietly but persistently pursue its goal of good works and charities enriching the lives of many in need. In its issue if November 22, 1936, describing the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Lodge, our VIRGINIAN PILOT had this to say, "In past years, the Elks have been in the front ranks of every movement that meant progress for Norfolk and its citizens. It took the lead in many progressive movements and always reached the goal they set out to reach. It has continued to lend its support to all movements that are for the best interests of the community, and while little is heard of things they do or help to do, the Elks will always be among the leaders in the army of men and women who march and work for things that mean progress and the betterment of the community."

May we ever continue to deserve such praise!!



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