SERVING THE BEAVER
The City of
Once you've finished reading the history
of the proud Aliquippa Elks Lodge No. 1221, we invite you to use the links
attached to learn more about
This history has been compiled, researched
and written by Greg Brown, a member of the
Additional editing and html coding by Ralph Haas.
This history of the Aliquippa Elks Lodge begins when William Howard Taft was president of the 46 United States of America and the Ford Motor Co. had only been producing the "Model T" for two years. Just a year before this Lodge was instituted, the Boy Scouts of America was founded by William Boyce, a native of Plum Boro in Allegheny County; the year was 1911.
On January 27, 1911, the first organizational
meeting of Woodlawn Elks Lodge No. 1221 of the Benevolent and Protective Order
of Elks was conducted on the third floor of the
The Blast furnaces at the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation mill had begun operation in 1909 and 1910, and a third furnace was slated to fire up in April of 1911; this meant that Woodlawn was a booming municipality, and the time was right for the formation of a local Elks Lodge to help serve the needs of the area.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks had been established in 1868, arising from a group of 15 New York City entertainers who called themselves the "Jolly Corks," a name derived from a trick in which the loser, more often a "victim," was required to purchase a round of refreshments. The moving spirit for the Elks was an English immigrant comedy singer named Charles Algernon Sidney Vivian, who is credited as the founder of the order and served as the first "right honorable primo." The name he used for the Elks top position, as were many of its traditions, originated in England with a fraternal organization to which Vivian had belonged in England, the Royal and Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.
But here in Woodlawn that cold winter afternoon, fifteen men were initiated into the new Lodge as Elks initiated 15 new members, allowing the body of 32 charter members to choose Duane P. Smith as their first Exalted Ruler. Ritual Degree work was performed by members of Rochester Lodge No. 283, instituted in 1894 as Beaver County's first Elks lodge, and those of the Beaver Falls Elks Lodge No. 348. The coming months would find Smith and George Stephenson, the Lodge's second Exalted Ruler, being granted Honorary Life Memberships for their efforts in forming and bringing the Woodlawn Elks Lodge to life.
The early years of the Woodlawn Elks Lodge were filled with various forms of entertainment such as dances, corn roasts, boat rides, stag parties and minstrel shows. The members of the Woodlawn Elks Lodge also staged euchre, pool and billiard tournaments, the latter not taking place on Sundays, and they employed a chef to make sure everyone had good food when they visited the Lodge. In fact, music was always important to the Woodlawn Elks, with lodge minutes from the past reflecting the establishment of a male chorus, and the purchase of pianos and sheet music. The sound of the latest Irving Berlin hit, "Alexander's Ragtime Band," was no doubt a favorite, but the piano must have fallen out of favor somewhat when the Lodge Trustees were instructed to buy a new-fangled "Victrola" and 25 records in 1915.
The charitable nature of the Woodlawn Elks Lodge, evident from the start within the local community, extended beyond the area, and an entry in the minutes of April 23, 1912, indicates a $20.00 donation was sent to the survivors of the Titanic, which hit an iceberg and sunk on April 12, 1912, killing more than 1,500 passengers. It was just about one year later that the Lodge members made another donation, this one to the Governors of Ohio and Indiana to be used for the relief funds of flood victims in those states. But the members of 1221 were not without their own problems: Early lodge minutes are scattered with references to typhoid fever, scarlet fever and other ailments.
Their devotion to their country was also strong. The first Flag Day service was conducted in the lodge on June 14, 1912. The following year, "the old soldiers of the vicinity" were invited to Flag Day exercises. (Flag Day did not become a national observance until 1949 when President Harry S. Truman, a life long Elk himself, signed an act of Congress establishing it.)
Sometime in 1916, the lodge established
The next year, Congress would approve
President Woodrow Wilson's request that the
By the time the Roaring Twenties arrived,
lodge membership had grown to about 200 and the brothers were seriously looking
for a permanent home. A building fund, started with $15,000 in 1913, had more
than tripled in less than three years. Two lots were bought on the southern
In hindsight, the late 20s were not the best
years for the lodge to have made such a significant investment. The
In 1936, the lodge was moved to quarters
Long time lodge members also recall meetings conducted above the Temple Theatre while the Elks roamed about in search of a permanent home. But the plans of the lodge would be delayed a second time by a world at war. In addition to sending many of her members overseas, the Elks of Lodge 1221 would support the war effort in many other ways.
A personal note dated February 12, 1945 from
the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, General Dwight
Eisenhower, expressed his gratitude to the lodge for a "generous assorted
package" delivered to a military hospital. It was the closing chapter of
the war in
With world peace restored and the nation's
economy gaining speed, the Elks at last found their permanent lodge. The
current building at
The membership met in September of 1952
"to discuss tentative plans for the new addition." Two months later,
builder John E. Marmaduke was given a $28,000
contract to construct what is now the lodge meeting room. The addition was
formally dedicated with a several days of festivities running from June 23
through 28, 1953. A grand opening ball was held June 27, with the formal
dedication the next day. The Elks had let
The new room got plenty of use, in addition
to serving as the meeting room. "Every year, for the anniversary, they had
a big name band," Guy Calabro recalled.
"You had to get your tickets early." One of the more significant
events to be held in the new facility took place in January of 1961, when Grand
Exalted Ruler John E. Fenton of
In August of 1992, a committee appointed by
Exalted Ruler Calvin Swink held its first meeting to
begin discussing whether the lodge should be replaced or renovated. Jack
Johnston, Russell Potts and Terry Kocher have chaired
the committee. Renovations to create three apartments on the second floor were
begun two years later. Shortly thereafter, a concrete floor was poured for the
new banquet room. Construction of the building itself began in 1995, and it was
ready for use late in 1997. The parking lot was paved in June of 1998, the
finishing touch to one of the finest banquet facilities in the
But the members of B.P.O.E. No. 1221 are not content to rest on their laurels. Discussion has been under way for some time that will result in moving the grill room into what is now the meeting room (and former banquet hall), and a complete renovation of the kitchen and establishment of a permanent lodge room (with offices for the secretary and steward) in the current grill room space.
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