Las Vegas, NM 408

Lodge History

Edward Murphy was the Charter ER for New Mexico's Mother Lodge.

The emergence of an urban society in America in the nineteenth century brought with it a phenomenal development of Lodges, and in Las Vegas, the one which emerged in an enviable position of popularity just before the turn of the century was Lodge #408 of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.

The applicants for the charter for an Elks Lodge in Las Vegas, granted on May 12, 1898, were only ten in number, but they were prominent citizens, including E. G. Murphey, druggist, as the first Exalted Ruler, and among the others Miguel A. Otero, Jr. then the territorial governor.

The appeal of the humanitarian and patriotic objectives of this fraternity, along with its features of mutual aid offered to members, attracted other local men of eminence, and then their social functions lent an additional desirability.

When thirty members of the sponsoring Lodge in Pueblo, Colo., came to Las Vegas on January 26, 1899, to install this first Lodge of Elks in New Mexico, the mayor, Dr. F.E. Olney, who was one of the applicants for the charter, met them as they arrived in their special coach in a train of the Santa Fe Railroad. Most of the town turned out for the parade which escorted them through the city and town, and then the guest and hosts rode on the spur railway to the Montezuma Hotel for dinner and back to town for a banquet in Rosenthal Hall.

At the Lodge ceremonies, forty-two candidates were initiated as charter members, and B.F. Forsythe was installed as Exalted Ruler
for the year, 1889-1890.
In mid-January, a year later, members of this lodge chartered a special
coach to go to Santa Fe and install Santa Fe Lodge #408.

Near the end of that month, when Number 408 observed its first anniversary at a banquet in the new Castaneda Hotel, the delegates coming from other cities increased to sixty the number seated at the tables.

Subsequently, in that first decade, the Elks repeated those memorable periodic banquets, sponsored a circus at the Opera House, helped prepare a race track and fair grounds in the valley of the Gallinas north of Old Town, and chartered a special car for members attending the national meeting in Los Angeles in 1909.

By 1911 the Elks had raised funds, by promotion of special projects and by enrolling several life members, for the launching of work on a special brick lodge building located on a large lot on Douglas Ave. They selected E.W. Hart to prepare the plans and let the contract to A.M. Horne. The Exalted Ruler at that time was George H. Hunker.

The new building, contracted at a cost of $25,111, was dedicated on August 27, 1912, by Judge C.J. Gavin, of Denver, who, when he had resided in Las Vegas, had been an Exalted Ruler of that lodge. Two hundred turned out for the grand ball that evening, including delegates from Raton, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque.

Through subsequent years the local Lodge continued to be active in the civic and social life of the community. Until the Lodge building's demise, it was the oldest Elks building in the state.

Las Vegas Lodge #408 was chartered on January 20, 1898. Las Vegas was the first lodge in New Mexico, chartered even before New Mexico was a state.

Frank Forsythe was the first elected ER for New Mexico's Mother Lodge.

The Mother Lodge was not always located at 2305 Collins Drive. The original lodge was located on Douglas Avenue in Las Vegas. The original lodge burned down in the 70s, but many veteran members remember the orginal lodge well.