What is the Story of the Elks Lodge on Diversey and Lakeview?

All PPM buildings are walking distance or a short journey to many of Chicago’s attractions.  Some, like the Lincoln Park Zoo and North Avenue Beach, are known to most.  Others we see often but do not take the time to discover what they are about. 

The Elks National Veteran’s Memorial at 2750 N Lakeview by Diversey Parkway is one that comes to mind.  The following is from the Open House Chicago website.  “After World War I, a competition was held by the American Institute of Architects to create a memorial honoring the 1,000+ members of the Order of Elks who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war. Out of seven worthy designs, Egerton Swartwout's was selected. Construction began in 1923 as the finest marbles were obtained from Greece, Austria, France, Belgium and Italy, as well as native marble from Vermont, Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri for the interior. The highest quality limestone was quarried in nearby Indiana. Combining features of a contemplative memorial and busy administrative offices, the building also serves as the Order's headquarters. Since its completion on June 7, 1924, the Memorial has often been described as one of the most magnificent war memorials in the world—with its monumental architecture, priceless art and stunning interior.”

Who are these Elks?  Apparently, the origin of the Elks goes back to the 1860s, when a group of actors and performers started the Jolly Corks in an effort to circumvent laws in New York that prohibited serving alcohol on Sundays.  There is a ‘cork trick’ game having to do with dropping corks and being the first to pick them up off the bar.  Later, in the 1860s, the group transitioned into Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.  Elks enjoy living life by the golden rule and contributing to the lives and well-being of those around them. They guide themselves through life with strong morals and a great love of our fellow man, always adhering to the founding principals of our order: Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love, and Fidelity.  Since its inception in 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has grown from a small gathering of people with good deeds in their hearts to the largest fraternal organization in the U.S. With over 1 million members, the Elks have contributed more than $3.6 billion in donations for the nation’s youth, veterans, disadvantaged, and handicapped, and to individuals and groups in support of patriotic and civic programs. Each year this timeless organization gives more than $200 million in contributions and is one of the largest private providers of college scholarships in the United States.

If the building does not stand out on its own, there is a life- size bronze sculpture an elk in front to let one know that it is indeed an Elks Lodge.  Since its dedication in 1924, the Elks National Memorial has also served as the national headquarters of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Over the years, the building has been re-dedicated several times to serve as a remembrance of Elks who died in all wars. Harboe Architects completed an extensive but sensitive restoration and renovation in 2013, ensuring that this awe-inspiring building will continue on for many years as a living memorial to those who died. 

The Memorial is open from noon to 4PM, Monday through Saturday, from April 15 through November 15.  Admission is free.  It is walking distance from many of PPM’s buildings.  If you are driving, there is non-metered street parking all along the park, which is just to the east of this amazing building.  Bring your golf clubs, as it is kiddie-corner from the Diversey Driving Range.  There is metered parking by the driving range.