Reno Elks Home (site)

Elks Club Lodge No. 597

Today this site is occupied by the Palladio condominiums, which opened in 2007, but for more than 50 years it was the location of the Reno Elks Home. The Reno Elks Lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (B.P.O.E.) was chartered as Lodge No. 597 on June 30, 1900 and was installed by officers of the Sacramento, Nevada City, and Grass Valley Lodges. The Charter list of the Reno Lodge consisted of 45 men who were said by the local newspaper to be “among the best citizens of the State of Nevada.”

From its chartering in 1900 until the completion of the Reno Elks Home in April of 1904, the Lodge met in the city’s “Investment Hall.” On April 23, 1904, the Lodge dedicated its new home at 50 North Sierra Street, where it resided for 53 years. The new building had the appearance of a grand private residence. Through the entry portico and main glass and mahogany doors, a grand central hall opened to large reception rooms on either side. A great stairway led upstairs to the spacious lodge room, and the finishings throughout were in mahogany and weathered oak with velvet carpets.

Originally, a beautiful park-like lawn area filled with mature trees stretched from the building's entrance northward to First Street. In 1937, Sierra Construction Company, owned by Norman Biltz and Dr. Theodore Chase, purchased the park area and had all the towering trees as well as the building's lovely columned portico removed so they could construct a two-story modern mercantile building with a full basement in front of the Elks Home. A new entrance to the Elks was created on Sierra Street. In 1938, the Gray-Reid-Wright department store moved into the neighboring commercial building.

The Reno Lodge was very active during its first 60 years, and the Reno Elks Home was a social center of the community. The Elks performed many acts of charity in and around Reno. Between 1904 and 1957, the Reno Elks Home was flooded twice by the Truckee River and survived a small fire. On February 5, 1957, however, the luck of the building ran out when the Reno Elks Home was destroyed by a disastrous explosion on Sierra Street that set the building and many neighboring structures on fire. J.C. (Cliff) Kumle, Secretary and Manager of the Reno Elks at the time, was credited with averting further tragedy by promptly evacuating 74 members from the lunch and card rooms. As a result, only minor injuries were reported among the Elks, although the building had to be razed soon after.

From March of 1957 until the current lodge at 597 Kumle Lane was completed in 1961, the Reno Elks Lodge met at the historic Mapes Hotel and the old Holiday Hotel Casino (now the Marriott Renaissance), in downtown Reno.

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Map

50 N. Sierra Street