Elk’s Club

The Elks Club ca. 1909, photographer unknown. [Image: Herb Dillon]

309 W. First St. | Architect: Unknown | Built: 1908 | Extant

Duluth’s Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks No. 133 organized in 1889 and began holding charity balls in 1900. In 1908, with over seven hundred members, the lodge got serious about building its own hall and formed a building committee that included prominent members such as mining engineer John Sebenius, Naval Reserve commander Guy Eaton, and Marcus Cullum, who would be elected the city’s mayor in 1910. When it was completed, newspapers gushed over the building’s design—but none mentioned its architect. The Duluth News Tribune called its Superior Street façade the “most artistic front of any building in the city” while Labor World described it as “an ornament to the street and an honor to the organization.” The three-story concrete Classical Revival building was originally faced with brick and terra-cotta and adorned with elements such as Doric columns, judicial grilles on the windows and third-floor balcony balustrades, and dentils supporting a simple but striking cornice. The Superior Street level contained two retail storefronts that the Elks rented to others while they occupied the top two floors. The News Tribune described the Elks’ facilities as “very elaborately finished” and the “most completely equipped club rooms in the state.”

The Elks Club sold the facility in 1976; since then it has housed the Wheel House bar and Upper Deck tavern, a smoking cessation clinic, a screen printer, insurance agents, and financial advisors. Today it is home to Lansmenn Energy Service Company. Meanwhile, Lodge  No. 133 remains active, meeting at the All-American Club, formerly the Esmond Hotel.