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.”
His job as Elks Indiana president is to travel to the various lodges, listen to what their concerns are and try to increase membership if he can.
Dunn said he will miss the camaraderie the most now that the lodge is closed for good. He said he met some of his best friends at the Anderson lodge and on trips to other lodges around the state.
“You just meet some really good people,” he said.
The Anderson lodge, which officially dates back to 1892, moved into the location on Broadway in 1962. Ten years after the move, growth in membership saw them add a patio and second floor to the existing building.
Dunn said it is too bad the lodge is closing because of all the things the lodge did for the community. But he thinks because of membership and debt, closing was ultimately the right thing to do. The rest of the order agreed by unanimously voting to fold earlier this month.
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.
If you go The Elks lodge will have a liquidation sale at 10 a.m. March 22. Everything left inside the building is up for sale. Items include tables, chairs, televisions, a dishwasher and several other miscellaneous items. The building itself, located at 1803 Broadway, is also for sale.