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History of BPOE 1181

Bremerton Lodge 1181, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, was instituted Jan. 7, 1910, at Eagles Hall, the large frame building still standing at Sixth and Pacific Avenue.

B. F. Padgert, district deputy grand exalted ruler of Everett Lodge 479, and fellow officers of sister lodges of the Northwest District acted as instituting officers.

With a charter list of 35 members demitting from other lodges in the area, Lodge 1181 got off to a rolling start which has developed to the present day membership of close to 2000.

At the founding, 22 members demitted from Ballard Lodge 827, and it went on record that "Ballard Lodge was, is and always will be known as the mother lodge of Bremerton Elks."

On the night of institution, the following officers were elected and installed: Robert J. Oliver, Exalted Ruler; T. I. Holmes, Leading Knight; A. F. Mills, Loyal Knight; J. S. Cameron, Jr., Lecturing Knight; W. C. Garity, Secretary; Arthur C. King, Treasurer; C. L. Hicks, Tiler; and S. R. Derick, C. J. Herritt and A. A. Dickover, all Trustees.

Other charter members included C. W. Trahey, E Angel, R. F. Hayward, D. L. Buren, J. Blake, E. J. Mc­Call, H. C. Kellers, C. P. Reynolds, H. H. Williamson, R. J. Roe, D. Kennedy, H. Jacobson, A. J. Comment, J. C. Lewis, R. T. Heron, H. R. Abbott, P. A. Wood, B. F. Hefele, P. A. O'Hair, F. L. Emsley, J. C. Wolfe, F. J. Taggart, F. W. Chambers, R. L. Drake and W. H. Bicknell.

Dickover served for many years as Lodge secretary.

One of the first orders of business of the new lodge members was to appoint a building committee so they could move into their own lodge hall.

On June 2, 1910, they met for the first time at their own hall in the old Harlow building on the corner of Fourth Street and Washington Avenue. They rented the hall from F. A. Harlow.

Charter was granted to the lodge at the annual grand lodge session of Elks, July 15, 1910.

On Oct. 19, 1911, the lodge voted to buy their first piece of land, known as the Derick property, located on the corner of Fifth Street and Washington Avenue. The property was to be used exclusively to build an Elks Temple.

Plans for the new home lay dormant, and on July 15, 1915, Lodge 1181 members moved into new and larger quarters in the Dietz Building at Fourth Street and Pa­cific Avenue. They made this their home for the next six years.

On Dec. 5, 1918, Exalted Ruler Fred R. Lewis appointed R. S. Hayward, M. F. McGowan, A. A. Dickover, H. J. Carey and Ed Bowdoin as a committee to draft a resolution setting forth plans and specifications to create an Elks home for Lodge 1181.

After much investigation, and with the lodge mem­bership approaching the 700 mark, on Feb. 20, 1919, Exalted Ruler Lewis read a resolution appointing Fred H. Hazard, R. F. S. Puck, A. McArthur, J. P. Tarver, M. W. McManis and A. A. Dickover, with Lewis as chairman, to the building committee.

They made an extensive study of property for sale in Bremerton and, on March 27, 1919, voted to purchase the southeast corner of Pacific Avenue and Fifth Street from Simon and George Hoffman for $18,000. The pro­perty the lodge owned at Fifth Street and Washington Avenue was sold to help defray expenses of the new tem­ple.

After a great deal of work, ground breaking cere­monies were held Jan. 26, 1920, with Jerry Blake turn­ing the first shovel of dirt. The next day the cornerstone was laid by Exalted Ruler Walter M. French and officers.

It was a gala occasion as described on the front page of The Bremerton Evening Searchlight: "Those sur­vivors of Bremerton Lodge No. 1181 B.P. O.E. who ten years ago on January 7, dedicated their efforts for Bremerton service, see today a fruition of achievement that at best was but a dream of an optimist a few years ago.

The Searchlight added:

"A description of the completed structure outlines a complete gymnasium, with appropriate baths, dining section for club and club cafe, as well as for the enter­tainment of other functions, club rooms, lodge rooms, public hall, twenty-eight sleeping rooms, two ladies' re­ception rooms, available for the use of Lady Elks, who are visitors or can be accommodated as a downtown meeting place, library, barber shop, committee rooms, executive office for the lodge and a multitude of other uses. "After struggling through a construction workers strike,the 1921-1977 home of the lodge was dedicated Saturday, March 19, 1921.

An excerpt from the March 17, 1921, minutes of Bremerton Elks Lodge read: "Dedication committee reported that they were ready to dedicate the new temple tomorrow if they had to, but Saturday they were going strong. That they would like to have everyone of the members wear their caps to show where they belong and who they are; that it will be a hard job for the committee at the door; that every member will have to show his membership card when he enters the first time, and that only those who are paid up are entitled to go through the doors. The committee re­quested that every brother appoint himself a committee of one to maintain order on that day as they desired to make this day one of the days in the history of Elkdom. The committee also stated that the new house committee would have charge of inside and if there were any com­plaints, to go to them and they would fix it up."

Total cost of the building, furnishings and mainte­nance to open the building was $168,358.53. This was covered by the local membership buying building fund bonds.

Members of the building committee received life memberships in the Order of Elks for their outstanding job in the building of the new Elks temple. Chairman Lewis and Secretary Dickover received cards of gold, and Tarver, McArthur, McManis, Schruz, Smith, Puck and Hazard received cards of silver.

By 1945, with the lodge membership approaching the 1500 mark, the temple was becoming inadequate. On Aug. 2 of that year the trustees presented a building plan and money was allotted to obtain the services of a build­ing engineer.

On March 7, 1946, chairman of the board of trustees, Paul R. Lewis, presented a plan to the lodge for mod­ernizing the temple at a cost of $25,000.

After much discussion,the membership voted June 3, 1946, to go ahead with a plan that would include store fronts and additional recreational facilities. The cost was estimated at $227,000.

Clyde Petrie was named chairman of the building committee, which consisted of Harold Fanning, Jack Rogers, C. A. King, Victor H. Norris, Lynden Nichols, Ernie Brownell, Chet Simpier, Fred Benedict, P. H. Johnson and C. T. Arthun.

A celebration and open house was held Sept. 15-17, 1948, in honor of the dedication of the new quarters.

Sept. 14 that year, The Bremerton Sun said: "One of the most modern, complete and attractive fraternal homes on the Pacific coast, the enlarged and remodeled Bremerton Elks temple, which will be dedi­cated formally Thursday evening, represents an addi­tional total investment of approximately $360,000."

Many changes were made to the temple with most im­provements underground.

The main entrance was moved from Pacific Avenue to Fifth Street, Payless Drug Store moved into the 100 by 60 foot commercial space facing on Pacific Avenue.

A 55 car, 1,000 square foot parking lot was added at the rear of the building where three frame buildings formerly stood. The parking lot was built atop a large building addition, all of which was below the level of Fifth Street.

A total of 2,300 square feet of space was provided in the additions to the building.

Through the double glass doors of the main entrance Elks walked into an attractive lobby, which formed the center of the main floor facilities. Separate offices were provided for the lodge secretary and building manager. The buffet was remodeled, and a new reading room located in front of a huge fireplace. The kitchen was doubled in size.

A stag lounge, billiard and pool room were added, from which doors opened onto a balcony running the full length of the building on the Pacific Avenue side. President Harry Truman spoke from this balcony when making a visit here in June, 1948.

This appearance which sparked what was to become HST's motto, "Giv'em Hell Harry" was commemorated by a plaque which was presented to the City of Bremer­ton by Exalted Ruler Rene Paul as part of No. 1181's 1976 Bicentennial program.

Just inside the main entrance, a circular stairway was installed which led down to a combination ladies' lounge dining room and ballroom on the lower level.

The lounge, designed to seat 85 people, was domi­nated by a beautiful, transparent color photographic mural in seven sections across the rear of the bar. The mural, 24 feet long by four feet high, is from seven pic­tures of the Greywolf range in the Olympic mountains. The pictures were taken from Deer Park by members of the Alpine Club of Seattle.

Athletic facilities on the lower level included an exer­cise room, handball court, wet and dry steam rooms, massage room, showers, locker room and an area for future installation of bowling alley lanes.

Plans for the building were prepared and work super­vised by the Bremerton firm of William I. Williams, Ar­chitect, and Clark M. Davis, Engineer. Solie Construc­tion Co. of Bremerton was the general contractor.

With the exception of a few minor changes, this former temple stands the same today. In 1957, Exalted Ruler Charles R. (Bud) Henderson remodeled the billiard room and added a television room to keep up with the times.

In February, 1965, Exalted Ruler John J. McManus appointed Leonard W. Kruse as chairman of a "New Lodge Home Committee" with instructions to study the possibility of either a new temple at the present location or moving to a new location on the outskirts of the community in March, 1965 the lodge membership voted to enlarge the stag bar area, and add a small cocktail lounge on the main floor. This was completed during Exalted Ruler Harry Schlabach's year, and the membership started to use these new facilities in June of 1965.

In February, 1966 Kruse and his committee completed their study, and recommended to the lodge that they pur­chase the property across the Street from the Elks Temple, between the Sears parking lot and the Bible Book Store, for future use as off-street parking when it could be decid­ed on what the lodge membership wanted to do wit their present location.

Since early 1966 committees have been working on the problem of building a new temple for the increasing membership of Lodge 1181.

The intervening years have brought about few physical changes to the lodge. The spirit and dedication to Elkdom have, however, remained at a high level because of high level of leadership exhibited by a long list of ER's. The idea of building a new temple building did not wane.

During the 1971-72 year of ER Louis Mentor land was purchased for the purpose. Plans were drawn and a scale model of the proposed building was created. It seemed tat No. 1181 was to have a new home. Due to insurmountable and unforeseen problems the entire project was, of necessity, dropped the following year. This unfortunate turn of events fell on the shoulders of ER Dick Weaver.

Still the thinking and dreaming of a new home for No. 1181 went on. ER Stan Sarver and ER Karl Zublasing would not let the idea die. Their contributions, though not physical, were ones of support and tenacity to worthwhile plan.

The idea of a new temple blossomed again during Ex­alted Ruler Don Hoffman's year (1975-76). At his direc­tion a new building committee was formed under the leader­ship of now PER Stan Sarver. Under the guidance of ER Hoffman and the leadership of PER Sarver things began to happen. Possible sites were inspected, architects were consulted, countywide business and population growth surveys were taken, and, most importantly, the input and expertise of the membership of the whole were incorporated into the planning.

Interestingly, after a Board of Trustees meeting late in February 1977, ER Rene Paul and some of the Trustees were discussing ideas for a new facility. A rough sketch incorporating some of these thoughts was drawn with a felt-tip pen on a piece of scratch paper. This plan became the basic floor plan of our new temple and is now part of the memorabilia buried in the "Time Capsule" in the new temple.

In the spring of 1977 ten acres of land owned by Robert Prather became available. A detailed survey indicated to all that this parcel of land was exactly what Bremerton Lodge needed for a new temple site. The land was purchased for $100,000.

April 1977 brought about the installation of ER John Drane.

He quickly and capably stepped into the whirlwind of ac­tivity and problems created by the momentum of the ex­citement of the now positive plans for a new lodge.

The building committee: Chairman Stan Sarver, Jim Civilla, L.N. "Jake" Phinney, Edward Wyndearo, CharlesTitus, Michael DeWitt and ex-officio member and advisor Benny Benson, soon contacted the Wright Construction Co. who eventually became the prime contractor.

In June 1977 the Board of Trustees: Ernest Liebman, chairman; Robert Burritt, PER Stan Sarver, Robert Smith and PER Don Hoffman, with the concurrence of ER John Drane sold the Fifth and Pacific building to Seattle interests for $310,000. By July plans had been finalized, financing arranged, and actual construction begun.

The culmination of the work and dreams of the men men­tioned here in whatever place in time or capacity in the lodge, is the new temple of Bremerton Lodge No. 1181 which was dedicated on December 8, 1977. In attendance were, among many others, Governor of the State of Washington Dixy Lee Ray, GER Homer Huhn, Jr., and PGER Robert Yothers.

After moving into the new lodge, we realized we were short of storage so in December of 1981 Exalted Ruler George Prichard appointed Don Winn and John Blockus as a committee to investigate the possibilities of adding on a storage area to the new building. An architect was hired to draw up plans to add on 1200 square feet to the south side of the building. Exalted Ruler Bob Pace let the con­tract out and the construction was completed in October of 1982.

The R.V. Park and Picnic area complex started as an idea in the summer of 1983 by Brothers Dick and Bruce Christopherson and Bill Wischhoefer. After some discus­sions about the possibility of installing some R.V. pads in an area east of the car parking lot, Dick or Bruce said if Bill could get the trash, brush and some trees removed they would provide the equipment to clear out the stumps, grade the area and black top the pads for some R.V. parking.

In early 1984 the first five R.V. parking pads were in­stalled. In addition, the Christopherson brothers had the area near the R.V. sites cleared of stumps and graded level for the horseshoe pits. Bill Wischhoefer prepared a plan to pro­vide twelve additional sites; water and electricity to all sites; build a picnic shelter, and an equipment maintenance shop with restrooms, and to install a separate septic system for the restrooms and an RV dump station. The lodge approved this plan on September 10, 1985.

The 12 additional RV sites were completed in 1986. In addition a water line for lawn and flower irrigation was installed to and around the lodge.

The shelter was built in the spring of 1987 as an open shelter. It was modified and enclosed in 1988 and 1989.

The equipment shop with restrooms was built in the sum­mer of 1989.

The deep canyon behind the picnic shelter and maintenance shop was filled in 1989, 1990 and 1991.

The final six RV sites (for a total of 23) were installed in the spring of 1990.

These projects were accomplished by about 75 Brothers and Ladies who dedicated over 8000 hours of volunteer work over the 8 year period since we started. The funding came entirely from contributions. These moneys were con­tributed from our TRAVEL-N-FUN / 1181 group, from the RV park and picnic area users, from the PER associa­tion, and our Ladies-of-Elks, the Bingo committee and from various individuals.

None of these projects could have been realized without the invaluable contributions (labor, materials and equipment) by the Christopherson brothers, Dick, Bruce and Joe.

In Jan. 1989, PER Stan Sarver became aware of how much interest was being paid on the mortgage for the lodge temple. Brother Sarver formed a committee and started a mortgage retirement drive by having fundraising benefits and soliciting donations from individual members. Dona­tions varied from $10 to $1500. $135,000 was contributed. Jan. 24, 1992 the final mortgage payment was made; the mortgage was paid off six years early.

We need a historian to update our history from this point, to include purchase of the additional acreage to the West of the lodge, construction of the Gazebo, the beautification and renovation of both the exterior and interior of the lodge, 25th Anniversary in the new Temple, and anything else I've overlooked.

If you have input for our history, please click this link and email it to me!

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