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.

Images

The new Elks Home

The new Elks Home

A postcard from 1908 reveals the beautiful Classical architecture of the Elks Home, just four years old at the time. Image courtesy of Philip Galbraith View File Details Page

Elks Home ca. 1910

Elks Home ca. 1910

The Riverside Hotel, located across the Truckee River, can be seen to the left In this view of the Elks Home taken from the north around 1910. Image courtesy of Neal Cobb View File Details Page

1918 Sanborn map

1918 Sanborn map

A Sanborn fire insurance map from 1918 shows the Elks Home (marked "B.P.O.E. Club House") just west of the Rialto Theatre. Brick structures are indicated by the color pink, while wood is depicted in yellow. The Sierra Street Bridge across the Truckee River was not constructed until 1937. Image courtesy of Philip Galbraith View File Details Page

View from the river

View from the river

A postcard depicts the rear of the Elks Home as seen from the south bank of the Truckee River. Note the spacious covered porch on the river side. Postcard courtesy of Dick Dreiling View File Details Page

New side entrance

New side entrance

Upon the construction of the commercial building to its north in 1937, the Elks Home gained a new entrance on North Sierra Street. Looking north from the Sierra Street bridge, this photo shows the busy shopping district north of the river. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

1955 flood

1955 flood

People fill sandbags to try to minimize damage from the historic Truckee River flood of 1955. This photo looks south past the Elks home toward the commercial buildings that once lined the south side of First Street. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Disaster strikes

Disaster strikes

A local headline informs residents of the disastrous explosion and fire that struck downtown Reno on February 5, 1957. Image courtesy of Reno Evening Gazette View File Details Page

Building afire

Building afire

The Elks Home is aflame in this photo following the massive gas explosion on February 5, 1957. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Watching the destruction

Watching the destruction

Crowds gather to watch the fire caused by the explosion on Sierra Street on February 5, 1957. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

A total loss

A total loss

The Elks Home had to be torn down following the devastating fire of 1957. This photo was taken from the south side of the Truckee River. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Former Elks Home site, 2004

Former Elks Home site, 2004

The lot that formerly housed the Elks Home lay vacant for many years prior to the completion of the Palladio Condominiums in 2006. To the rear of the empty lot is the Masonic Lodge, and to the right (on the south bank of the river) is the Riverside Hotel. | Creator: Max Chapman View File Details Page

Street Address:

50 N. Sierra Street [map]

Cite this Page:

“Reno Elks Home (site),” Reno Historical, accessed May 24, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/163.

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