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Bedford Elks Lodge Named To 10 Most Endangered Places List
Updated April 23, 2015 10:03 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana Landmarks today announced its 10 Most Endangered, an annual list of Hoosier landmarks in jeopardy. The Elks Lodge, 1102 15th Street in Bedford, is one of the threatened sites on the list.

Some of the 10 Most are long-vacant and dilapidated structures that have outlived their original purposes. Others are threatened by lack of redevelopment prospects. Indiana Landmarks uses the Most Endangered list to bring public attention to the imperiled sites and mobilize support for their preservation.

The Elks Lodge

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, fraternal orders across America swelled with people interested in the social and service opportunities the groups provided. The Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Moose, Elks, and others built modest and grand lodge halls, many designed by notable architects.

Today, membership in #896 is shrinking. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, for example, has declined from over 1.6 million in 1976 to 850,000 today, reflecting a reduction in membership in clubs of all kinds, even bowling leagues, that Americans used to join for personal, social, and civic betterment. As fraternal organization membership declines, communities must deal with underutilized landmarks, like Elks Lodge #826 in Bedford.

The Bedford Elks hired Indianapolis architect Elmer E. Dunlap - designer of Indianapolis schools and courthouses in Carroll, Pike, and Spencer counties - to design a 11,435-square-foot lodge that was completed in 1917. The brick and stone structure incorporated a full-sized gym and roof garden, along with the main meeting hall and meeting rooms.

The lodge remains one of the state's finest examples of the Italian Renaissance Revival style, but it's a landmark in jeopardy. Inside, plaster flakes and falls, the result of a leaky roof and gutters, and electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems are antiquated. Outside, stone and brick show signs of deterioration.

The small population of active Elks, recognizing their inability to care for the historic lodge, recently donated the property to the Bedford Urban Enterprise Association (UEA). A building assessment has documented urgent stabilization and repair needs. The UEA is challenged to find a new use for the structure while seeking money for repairs.

"Indiana Landmarks works to save vintage places well before the eleventh hour, but sometimes very important structures reach a dire point, and calling attention to them via the 10 Most Endangered list helps rescue them," says Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit preservation organization. "They're not lost causes. All have the potential for revival and reuse," he adds.

"These landmarks preserve connections to community heritage. Time and again, we find that restoring one important place spurs broader revitalization in a community," Davis adds. Indiana Landmarks uses the Most Endangered list to bring attention to the imperiled sites and find solutions that will ensure their preservation.

Since the first 10 Most Endangered in 1991, 104 historic places in severe jeopardy have appeared on the list, with only 13 lost to demolition. This year's list includes seven new entries and three landmarks making repeat appearances.

The seven new 10 Most Endangered sites are:
• Elks Building, Bedford
• I.O.O.F-United Brethren Block, Huntington
• Camp Chesterfield, Chesterfield
• Former First Presbyterian Church and Lafayette Building, South Bend
• McCurdy Hotel, Evansville
• Rivoli Theater, Indianapolis
• Indiana Medical History Museum, Indianapolis

Landmarks repeating on the list from the previous year include:
• Mills House, Greenwood
• McDonald House, Attica
• Indiana County Homes

The prospects of seven places on the 2014 Most Endangered list improved enough that Indiana Landmarks removed the critical label. Many previously listed landmarks sites have been restored, including the Plainfield Diner on the historic National Road in Plainfield. The Streamline Moderne-style roadside diner with an original 1954 interior was an entry on the 2010 endangered list. To save it, the diner had to be moved to another site on the National Road where it was restored. It reopened last year as the Oasis Diner.

To find out more about each of the 10 Most Endangered, visit www.indianalandmarks.org or contact Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534 or 800-450-4534.



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