Making an Impact
Madison Elks Club to mark
120 years of community service
Thirty-one members signed
the club’s original 1899 charter
(April 2019) – Tony Steinhardt noted the signature of his grandfather, A.W. Glauber, on the original framed charter that is hanging on the wall of the Madison (Ind.) Elks Lodge No. 524. His grandfather served as the Inner Guard on the first slate of officers for the new Lodge.
Steinhardt hit a milestone this year: 50 years of service to the Elks. He served as Exalted Ruler during four of the challenging years after a fire in 2006 destroyed the historic Madison Elks Lodge on West Street. Although many Elks artifacts and historical documents were lost, Steinhardt has a copy of the 1949 program book from the Golden Jubilee 50th Anniversary of the Madison Elks Lodge No. 524. That surviving original document is especially valuable because the Elks are celebrating another major anniversary this year.
Photo by Sharyn Whitman
Tony Steinhardt points to his grandfather’s signature on the original charter of the Madison (Ind.) Elks Club.
The Madison Elks Lodge No. 524 is celebrating 120 years of service to the local community, from 1899-2019. The founding purpose of each lodge is “to promote and practice the four cardinal virtues of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity; to promote the welfare and enhance the happiness of its members; to quicken the spirit of American Patriotism and cultivate good fellowship.”
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) is non-political, non-sectarian, American fraternity. According to records maintained by the National Elk’s organization, Madison Elks Lodge No. 524 has given more than $2.8 million of support to the local community.
Including A.W. Glauber, a total of 31 members of the Lodge were initiated on Nov. 8, 1899. Their names are listed in the Jubilee Program. Those original members met in a room on the second floor of the building at 105 W. Main St. The fledgling society struggled financially in the early years. However, in 1901, the members found a successful fundraiser. They contracted with the Coney Island Co., to book a moonlight Ohio River cruise on the Island Queen. The cruise was held on April 19, 1901, and netted the Lodge $74.15.
This successful relationship continued for more than 40 years because it was a very lucrative venture for both the Lodge and the Coney Island Co. The program states, “There were generally four trips each season and tremendous crowds, with hundreds coming for many miles who came to enjoy a moonlight ride on the Ohio on this palatial steamer.”
That success led to another event described as a “mammoth street carnival” that lasted for five days in 1903. It was the Wright Carnival Co. of Evansville, Ind., the biggest show ever to appear in Madison at the time. As part of the event, a 1902 Oldsmobile was raffled off. The carnival netted $516.86 and the raffle added $403.91. Now financially solid, the Elks were able to purchase property at 420 West St. and proceed with the construction of the new Lodge. It was completed in 1905. The first meeting was held there on Feb. 5, 1905.
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The Elks Lodge was becoming a prominent social fixture in Madison. Minstrel shows, singing societies, the Elks Mandolin Club and the Elks Band were organized during this period. The band was described in the program as “one of the finest concert bands in the country. Band membership at the time included a large number of accomplished musicians. The band played many important engagements throughout a large area, besides providing enjoyment to music lovers for many miles around with their summer concerts and their Chautauqua Programs.”
Eighteen Elks members joined the military forces during World War I. During that time, Madison was hit with a massive flu epidemic. It was so serious that the Elks Lodge was converted into an emergency hospital. That generosity in time of need was remembered as one of the “greatest services to the community.”
Fifty-one members fought in World War II, with two members making the ultimate sacrifice. During that war, the Lodge was again offered to meet the needs of the community. This time the facility served as the headquarters for the American Red Cross Blood Bank.
After the war ended, the Lodge building was remodeled. The Madison Elks Lodge No. 524 continued to grow as an important part of the Madison community. The 105th anniversary celebration in 2004 reflected the Elks commitment to patriotism. Financial support at that time included funding for cancer research. Bingo had become a prominent fundraiser. The Elks Lodge building was used for meetings by both the Madison Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs.
However, everything changed when the stalwart Lodge building was destroyed by the 2006 fire. Arson was suspected, but no one was ever charged. Records documenting the history of the Lodge between 1949 and 2006 were lost in that fire. Former Madison residents posted memories online, reminiscing of food and events at the Elks. Those memories included hamburgers and homemade French Fries, birthday parties, after-prom parties and weddings.
After the fire, the Elks found a temporary new home at 331 W. First St. A thorough evaluation was completed on the burned shell of the West Street Lodge building. It was determined that the Elks would not be able to renovate the facility. Eventually, the Elks relocated to the site of the former Madison Country Club, at 1251 W. Main St. The Elks Lodge is now open for dinner from 4-9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. This location also provides the opportunity for the Lodge to offer the community a beautiful venue for events and meetings.
Newly elected Exalted Ruler Scott Tebbe, 43, highlighted some of the successful 2018 activities: the Elks booth at “Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew,” the New Year’s Eve Bash with Madison’s own Jimmy Davis band, the sold-out performances of Madison Community Player’s Dinner Theatre’s “Dead To The Last Drop,” and the Elks Fiesta Day. Tebbe said he is looking to continue to build on the current venue to increase the social aspect of the order. More events are being planned for 2019, including some events that will be open to the public.
A nine-hole golf course (independently managed) is located beside the Lodge. The Lodge is planning to expand other outside sporting activities. The plans include the renovation of the adjacent tennis courts, bringing back bocce ball and possibly adding pickleball. Sports activities are open to everyone in the community.
Lodge members have the convenience of these amenities right at the doorstep of the Lodge. Special events planned for 2019 include music, dances, entertainment, special speakers and themed activities. Gaming opportunities help raise money for community projects. Only Elks members and their spouses can purchase gaming items.
The organization has proudly supported the greater Madison community over the past 120 years with scholarships, the “Hoop Shoot” Free Throw Contest, support for the Disabled American Veterans, Girls Inc., Lide White Boys and Girls Club, and a $5,000 donation towards the Kings Daughters Hospital Cancer Center, to name just a few. Tebbe also highlighted the Venture Scouts, a special partnership between the Madison Elks Lodge No. 524 and Boy Scouts of America Troop 708 Venture Crew program.
Venture Scouts are a co-ed troop that is a youth-led, high-adventure program. This Venture Scout Troop is unique because it serves special needs adults. Current Troop Advisor Ann Hatton became involved because her son, Matthew, a special needs child, had participated in Boy Scouts since age 7. Matthew wanted to continue to be involved in scouting after he turned 18. His troop worked together to complete the Disability Awareness Merit Badge. They developed ways to teach scouting skills to special needs scouts. These new scouts were able to learn to set up a tent, to tie a square knot, to make s’mores, and to be trained in knife safety using a table knife instead of a pocket knife.
A new scout troop must be attached to a charter organization. Steinhardt, a dedicated supporter of the Boy Scouts and the Elks, brought the Venture Scout project to attention of the Madison Elks. As a result, the Madison Elks Lodge No. 524 is the charter sponsor for the Venture Scout troop. Additional support for the project came from DSI, Sandstone Industries, where Matthew and other scout members work.
“We could not do it without the Elks,” said Hatton. “The Venture Scouts do not have money to attend camp or go on trips. The growth that we see in each scout is huge.”
Today, there are close to 1 million members and 2,000 Lodges nationwide. Locally, the Madison Elks Lodge No. 524 roster lists about 250 members.
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