ANDERSON, Ind. — The Elks Lodge on Broadway has folded after 15 years of declining membership and increasing debt.
Dick Dunn, a lodge member for 30 years and the current secretary, said it just didn’t make sense to keep the lodge open any longer. The lodge was struggling to attract new, younger members and the older members weren’t as active as they once were.
“Fraternal orders really aren’t the thing to do anymore,” Dunn said. “They just don’t interest the young people and the older people are getting to the age where they don’t get out like they used to.”
The lodge had close to 2,000 members in its heyday back in the 1960s and 1970s. Dunn said the lodge was the place people went to hang out, have a drink or have a good time. Now, membership is around 225 people and the lodge finally decided it couldn’t continue.
Dunn said the lodge was getting behind on the bills and didn’t want to be a burden on the city. He said the membership decided closing would be more helpful than to continue to slog on, falling further into debt.
“We decided to liquidate instead of driving the nail further and further into the ground,” Dunn said. “We respected the community too much to do that.”
The lodge will hold a liquidation sale next month and sell everything inside the building including tables, chairs, televisions and several other miscellaneous items.
Dunn, who is the president-elect of the Elks’ state organization, said lodges shutting down is a trend not just in Anderson but in Indiana and the entire country. He said the problem all goes back to not being able to recruit new members.
“The claim is that we’ll lose one lodge a week in the whole United States in 2014,” Dunn said. “And in Indiana it might be worse than that.”