Elks were started by 15 men on February 16, 1868. Charles Vivian, an English actor, formed a group called the Jolly Corks. When the Corks' membership exploded, new, more serious minded members felt there was both a need for and a chance to form a benevolent society. The animal from which the order derives its name was selected in what was reported to be a close vote between those who wanted the Elk and those who favored the Bison; the vote was in favor of the Elk by one vote.
The Elk won out because of its many admirable qualities and the majestic head of the male with the wide spread antlers was adopted as the symbol of the order. They had established the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America. The Order required two levels of initiation, first and second degree. Elks weren't’t considered full members until they had completed the second degree initiation.
On July 4, 1949 Elks from Alameda, Oakland and Pittsburg Lodge got together to form the Walnut Creek Lodge. They rented the Veterans Memorial Hall, on Locust and Mt. Diablo. And when the by-laws were approved, the Lodge was under way. On May 13, 1950 the Lodge was chartered as Walnut Creek Lodge # 1811 with 152 Charter members of which one still lives in the area.
A finance committee was appointed and they raised $16,000.00 to purchase 2.5 acres of land on South Main across from Los Lomas High School. When they applied for a building permit they were informed the land was to be used for something called a freeway and they were able to purchase 4.5 acres for the same price which is our current location.
Central to Elk Lodge ceremonies are the Bible and the American Flag. Emblems associated with the Elks are: Forget-me-not; antlers of protection; and the star of fidelity. The cardinal principals of the Elks are: Brotherly Love, Justice, Charity, and Fidelity. The Elks take deserved pride in their patriotic and charitable endeavors.
April 19, 1951 the first Exalted Ruler and officers were installed. The first Exalted Ruler, Elmer Henson, was also President of the Walnut Festival and a City council member. They started out serving the community right away, taking part in the 1950 and -51 Walnut Festivals and continued to participate well into the late ‘90’s. The installation was held in the metal Veterans Memorial Building. The installing officer was Oliver Fernstermall, the Exalted Ruler of Pittsburg Elks Lodge 1474 who was our sponsoring Lodge. They installed 156 new members and 56 transfers from other Lodges. There were 450 guest and dignitaries present at the event.
In 1950 the Walnut Creek Elks became a member of the new California Hawaii Elks Association or CHEA. Walnut Creek had a ground breaking on this facility on February 10, 1955.
The cornerstone was laid on June 25, 1955, and the Elks moved into this facility in August of 1955. The brothers built the furniture, did the landscaping and donated money to furnish a small kitchen, bar stools, and a speaker system. In 1959 the members found they had outgrown the facility and the new kitchen and Lodge room were added and the first Lodge meeting was held in the Lodge room on January 13, 1960. With the help of the membership the mortgage was paid in full on December 31, 1968. There was additional remodeling done in 1969 and in 1988 there was a major remodel completed.
In 1973 Arlene Moore became the Lodge secretary and held the position until her death in February 2005, a total of 31 years. She was made an Honorary Life member January 12, 2005.
Walnut Creek took first place in the Ritual Contest in 1981 and 1985. In 1984, the Walnut Creek Elks became a member of Bequests and Living Trusts Program (BLT). 1985 the Lodge made a donation to the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. The ladies club was formed in November 1986.
We have had 65 Exalted Rulers, one of whom was a female. Only one Exalted Ruler has ever served two terms in this Lodge. we have three Exalted Rulers from other Lodges, Juanita Canepa from Richmond Lodge Michael Angelo Silva from Oakland Lodge and Gerry Gouveia a PER from Fremont Lodge and Pittsburg Lodge. We have had 6 Past Association Vice Presidents, 4 Past District Deputy Grand Exalted Rulers We have 1 Grand Lodge Committee Member Area 7 Judiciary Ed Johnson and CHEA Chairman Gerald Gouveia. From 1963 to 2016 we have honored 52 Elks of the Year, selected by the Exalted Ruler every year
The Elk colors are Royal Purple and White, a combination deriving its origin from the history of the Clergy, Nobility and the People. In addition to many social activities our Lodge conducts Hoop Shoot, supports Boy Scouts, 3rd grade dictionary program, is a member of the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce, supports the Contra Costa Blue Star Moms and the Walnut Creek Police K9 Program. We hold a Mother's Day Service the second Sunday in May. A Flag Day service each June 14, patriotism has characterized the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America since the early days of the organization.
Allegiance to the flag of our country is a requirement of every member. In 1907, the BPOE Grand Lodge designated by resolution June 14th as Flag Day, the Grand Lodge of the Order adopted mandatory observance of the occasion by every Lodge in 1911, and that requirement continues. In 1949 when President Harry Truman himself a member of the Elks, made the proclamation that thereafter June 14th Flag Day would be a day of national observance for the symbol; of our country.
A memorial service is held the First Sunday in December of each year which is designated as Elks Memorial Day to commemorate our departed members. In 1919, the use of the "Eleven O'clock Toast" on occasions was given official Grand Lodge permission.
During World War I, the Elks, under the auspices of the War Relief Commission, helped with the patriotism and generosity of our members, equipped the first two base hospitals to reach France. In 1918, to accommodate the maimed and wounded, the Elks built a 700-bed Reconstruction Hospital in Boston.
In July 1946 the Elks National Veterans Service Commission was created. “So long as there are veterans in our hospitals, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them". All this should make you proud to be an ELK therefore I encourage you to serve with the greatest pride. Remember you only get out of Elks what you put into it, so be active.
All the business of the Lodge is done at the meetings so we encourage you to attend all meetings on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.