Nearly 90 years after the American fraternal order and social club The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was founded in 1868, Arcadia attorney Jim Helms, who would later become Mayor of Arcadia, founded the Arcadia Elks Lodge #2025 nearly 60 years ago in July 1957.
The Arcadia Chamber of Commerce will help celebrate the group’s long history and benevolence in the community and nearly 20 years as a Chamber member, with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and Business Mixer from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 23.
Arcadia Elks Lodge 2025 proudly serves the city of Arcadia and its surrounding communities of Sierra Madre and Temple City as a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to serving local communities by helping disabled children as well as supporting national, state, and local charities and service groups as well as local police, fire, and schools with tens of thousands of dollars in donations each year.
The organization also produces many events each year, including its biggest regularly-scheduled fundraiser, bingo games every Thursday evening.
Bingo, Friday night dinners, and other programs by the Elks and other groups are hosted at its iconic building that features a large kitchen, a lounge with a bar, big screen TVs, a stage for small bands, and soon a digital projector and screen. The Lodge also offers a large ballroom with a performance stage that is big enough to entertain hundreds of people.
The June 23 Mixer will be hosted by the Elks at this historic Lodge building at 27 W. Huntington Drive on the property that has an even longer history in town than the Elks themselves. As far back as World War I a swimming pool on the same property by Anita Baldwin and the community provided relief for the soldiers of the United States Balloon School at Ross Field nearly a century ago in 1918-19 on the land that later became Los Angeles County’s Arcadia Park and Santa Anita Golf Course, right across the street from the Elks Lodge today.
The Arcadia Elks believe that their current building was originally the Base Operations Center (BOC) for the balloon school, and that a nearby stone wall was part of the camp swimming pool.
In the 20 years prior to the Elks taking over, the building was home to everything from Santa Anita Inn Liquors and a District 3 State Relief Administration office in the 1930s to Barbour’s Preserving Co. in the 1940s and early 1950s, according to City directories found at the Arcadia Public Library. Just prior to the Elks, it was home to the Arcadia Community Chest; San Gabriel Foundation; and San Gabriel Shrine Club.
The Arcadia Elks Lodge bought the building in 1960 from the Shrine Club, which reportedly felt compelled to sell the because of the bar in the lounge that was designed to dispense alcohol. Ironically, it is the bar that has been a consistent attraction for the many events hosted by the Elks and many other groups who have used the facility. The funds used for the purchase came from the sale of bonds by the Lodge to its members.
Arcadia Elks Lodge history
by James R. Helms. Jr., founder and Charter Exalted Ruler
One evening in the late fall of 1956 a few men from Arcadia and Temple City met to discuss the possibility of establishing an Elks lodge in Arcadia. An organizing committee was formed and meetings were held in the Arcadia Tribune Offices at the corner of Campus Drive and Santa Anita Ave. in Arcadia.
Soon the weekly meetings became too large for the space available at the Tribune building. The California National Guard Armory in Arcadia was secured for future meetings. That building was eventually demolished to make way for the new Arcadia Police Headquarters.
By March of 1957 the goal of 400 applications was reached and the Grand Lodge of Elks scheduled the institution of the lodge for March 23, 1957. The only facility available for such a large group was the Arcadia High School gymnasium.
The Grand Lodge officers first instituted the lodge, and then installed the first officers of the lodge, including James R. Helms, Jr. Exalted Ruler.
The Lodge held its first meeting in the Shrine Club building at 27 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia. A rental agreement was made between the two clubs for this sharing of space.
Listed below are a few of organizations supported by the Arcadia Elks:
- Special Olympics
- Boy/Girl Scouts
- Honor Flight
- Arcadia High School Football
- Arcadia High School Baseball
- Wounded Warrior Project
- City of Hope
- Pasadena Humane Society
- Wounded Warrior Project
- Arcadia Historical Society
- Arcadia Police Dept.
- Arcadia Fire Dept.
- Sierra Madre Fire Dept.
- Sierra Madre Police Dept.
- California Highway Patrol
- Sierra Madre Search & Rescue
- L.A. County Sheriffs Dept.
- We Tip
- BOA Venture Crew 91
To inculcate the principles of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity; to recognize a belief in God; to promote the welfare and enhance the happiness of its Members; to quicken the spirit of American patriotism; to cultivate good fellowship; to perpetuate itself as a fraternal organization, and to provide for its government, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America will serve the people and communities through benevolent programs, demonstrating that Elks Care and Elks Share.
The Elks Major Projects Program in California and Hawaii generates hundreds of millions of dollars in donations.
Since 1950 the California Hawaii Elks have raised over $100.6 Million to the unmet needs of children with disabilities by developing a program of supporting services to aid these children at no cost to their families.
The Elks Drug Awareness Education Program was launched to warn primary grade students and their parents of the dangers in drug use.
Additionally, every lodge observes June 14th as Flag Day, a tradition which the Elks began in 1907 and was later adopted by the Congress as an official observance.
The Order is a non-political, non-sectarian and strictly American fraternity.
Our lodge is looking for community-minded people who believe in building stronger and safer cities through community involvement. If you are one of these people and are interested in joining our team, please drop by the lodge during regular business hours for more information.
Proposal for membership in the Order is only by invitation of a member in good standing. To be accepted as a member, one must be an American citizen, believe in God, be of good moral character and be at least 21 years old. Members work hard to maintain a safe and comfortable family style environment for all members to enjoy.
Elk members and their guests are allowed to come into the lodge and enjoy all the benefits that come with being a member. Members have met new friends and built new lasting relationships while visiting the lodge, where an array of regular weekly functions are available for members to enjoy. Members are also welcome to visit any of the over 2000 Elk Lodges located across our nation while traveling.
Arcadia Lodge Activities
- Sunday Breakfasts
- Friday Night Dinners
- Monday Night Football
- Wednesday Pasta Nights
- New Year’s Day Party
- Mothers Day Champagne Breakfast
- Charity Christmas Party
- Special Event Dinners
- Chili Cook-off
- Casino Night
Since 1917 the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks have been committed to providing aid and comfort to our nations veterans in need. In 1946 The Elks National Service Commission was created and adopted the following pledge:
“So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them.”
To this day the Elks National Service Veterans Commission and all Elk Lodges across the country proudly stand behind this pledge. Arcadia Elks Lodge #2025 is proud to be part of this glorious and time-honored tradition.
Throughout the year members and their families make, collect and donate items such as lap blankets, clothing, toiletries, games, books and playing cards that will be handed out at the Annual Veterans Christmas Dinner Party held at Wadsworth Veterans Hospital in West Los Angeles.
In addition the Arcadia Lodge also hosts a summer BBQ also held at the Wadsworth facility along with a November dinner held at the Arcadia lodge.
The Arcadia Elks Lodge is a strong supporter of local Boy & Girl Scout Troops. Facilities are made available to them to help assist in their various fund-raising endeavors. Arcadia Elks is the proud sponsor of Boy Scout Venture Crew #91. They can be seen helping out around the lodge on a regular basis. Arcadia Elks is also honored to host an Annual Breakfast each December for the Boy and Girl Scouts who carry the banners in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.
The Elks National Drug Awareness Program strives to teach all children and parents about the dangers of illegal drug use and prevent the abuse of legalized and prescription drugs. As the largest volunteer drug awareness program in the United States, the program relies on state, district and Lodge volunteers to promote a drug-free lifestyle. By taking pride in America’s communities and youth, the program takes action against youth drug use through education and inspiration.
The dictionary project was founded in 1995 by Mary French of Charleston, SC. Its primary focus is to promote literacy to children in third-grade classes as they transition from learning how to read to identify and use information. The Elks joined this movement in 2004 nationwide and have donated more than 1.2 million dictionaries over the last six years. The Arcadia Elks is proud to be part of this important and worthwhile project.