Suzassippi’s Mississippi: The “Cotton Pickers” B. P. O. Elks Lodge

temple 2 (1)

The cornerstone for the old Elks Club, Lodge #148 on Washington Avenue in Greenville, was laid April 19, 1906.

Today has been a gala day in Greenville, the streets are crowded, banners are floating, and the town in decorated in purple and white in honor of the Greenville Lodge No. 148, B. P. O. Elks, who are celebrating the corner stone laying of their new $40,000 home, the ceremonies of which were begun at 1 o’clock p.m. today. (B. P. O. Elks, Daily Democrat Times, April 19, 1906, p. 5)

Russell W. Archer described the former lodge in the 2011 nomination for the Greenville Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places (retrieved from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory database):

A two-story (on a raised basement) cast concrete block Elks Lodge, with an asphalt gable roof which extends to a temple front over the full-facade two-story front porch.  The gable end has modillions and dentil molding and an applied round crest in the center.  The porch is supported with four two-story round cast concrete block columns (with Ionic capitals) resting on tall square stuccoed piers and two Ionic pilasters…The windows on the first floor have wrought iron balconies and stairs run on either side to form a small landing in front of the door.

The Neoclassical styled building is attributed to Patrick Henry Weathers.  According to the Mississippi Heritage Trust, who listed it on the 10 Most Endangered list in 2003, it was known as the “social center for Greenville.”  MHT cited the Greenville Times, February 16, 1907 coverage of the opening of the new lodge as including a billiard hall, barber shop, full library that contained “rare and expensive oil paintings” and was lighted with gas and electric lamps.  It was declared a Mississippi Landmark in 2002, but has faced demolition a number of times since then.  Currently owned by the Mississippi Action for Community Education (M.A.C.E), at least $2 million dollars is needed for restoration.  In 2015, MHT reported no progress, though M.A.C.E. continues to work with the city of Greenville to secure funding.

 



Categories: Greenville, Historic Preservation

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8 replies

  1. I have seen this building many times since the late 1990s, but there has never been any restoration progress at all from what I can see. When was it last open and in use for something?

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  2. Wow! This is some big and strong and serious architecture. When it was built, energy conservation and costs to maintain, heat and cool were not a problem. What would be a possible way to restore and use since our Mississippi Delta struggles financially from drastic farming changes?

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  3. This has got to be one of the best rock faced concrete block structures in the state.

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  4. With hope of progress, directly on the other side of Washington Ave., the old Sears Building is being restored and turned into luxury apartments with retail and restaurant space underneath and to each side.

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    • That is good news–sounds like we need a Greenville update! I was thinking earlier about gstone’s comment, and how housing is one of the areas where there is a need (well not so much the luxury type, but affordable) and that brings economic benefit also. I was trying to envision the lodge as apartments, and it totally works for me.

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  5. This building keeps haunting me. I looked at it 3 different times yesterday and I’m back again today looking. First Christian Church in downtown Jackson, MS, and The Hinds County Armory on The Fairgrounds in Jackson haunt me too. Kills my heart to see these grand structures abandoned and not loved. This Elk Lodge would be one of the most beautiful living spaces in our state if someone were to rescue her. My delusions of grandeur -The Elk restored with a gorgeous foyer similar to the Lamar Life Building or The Plaza building and pretty apartments and a bistro in it.

    There are no words to express my joy every time I ride by the King Edward Hotel in downtown Jackson. After sitting abandoned and unloved for over 40 years, HOORAY it’s a daily, living, gorgeous miracle!

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  6. I would SO love to see this building be put to good use. I hope MACE will sell it for cheap due to the amount of repairs needed. A few years back, I started a petition to get them to do something with it, and apparently that wasn’t the first one either. I could see this beautiful building being a B&B, apartments, a grand event venue, or even a museum. I know this is a long shot, but it would be really cool if the federal government would renovate this space (and likely add-on next to it) as the upcoming new Federal courthouse that they are already planning for Greenville.

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