The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 2, Page 10.


Valparaiso Elkdom Is 37 Years Old; Founders Were Outstanding Men of City

The history of Elkdom in Valparaiso dates back to the nineteenth of May, 1899, when through a dispensation from the grand lodge a group of Valparaiso men were permitted to organize Lodge No. 500, in this city.

The first meeting was held on the third floor of the Bondy building, corner of Lincolnway and Franklin. District Deputy Armstrong read the dispensation authorizing the institution of the lodge. The following officers were in charge and instituted the lodge: Charles J. Thennes, Michigan City Lodge, No. 432, exalted ruler; Ben F. Leggett, Michigan City Lodge, No. 432, esteemed leading knight; Milo E. Christie, LoPorte Lodge, No. 396, esteemed loyal knight; Bolar Banks, LaPorte Lodge, No. 396, esteemed lecturing knight, C. R. Collins, Michigan City Lodge, No. 432, secretary; Philo Doran, LaPorte Lodge, No. 396; John Meacham, LaPorte Lodge, No. 396, inner guard; W. M. Mendenhall, LaPorte Lodge, No. 396, tyler.

The following men were initiated into membership of the order at the meeting: L. M. Pierce, William Daly, W. H. Newland, Roscoe C. Jones, G. W. Doty, J. H. Wilson, Grant Mitchener, Grant Crumpacker, Charles S. Ball, Frank A. LePell, John D. Stoner, John W. Elam, Albert F. Heineman, George F. Beach, Louis D. Bondy, John H. Spindler, Clarence Drown, Henry F. Black, Joseph L. Clifford, George C. Leftingwell, Nathan L. Agnew, Robert L. Felton, William M. Dudley, Thomas J. Johnson, Delbert C. Anderson, Charles W. Bartholomew, William R. Gardner, Valentine H. Wendt, Ernest J. Gardner, Terrence E. Billings.

After the close of the initiation ceremonies the lodge was regularly organized by election of the following officers, to serve for the balance of the lodge year or until their successors were installed: Grant Mitchener, exalted ruler; George F. Beach, esteemed leading knight; Robert L. Felton, esteemed loyal knight; Valentine H. Wendt, esteemed lecturing knight; Louis D. Bondy, secretary; Ernest J. Gardner, treasurer; Terrence E. Billings, tiler; Roscoe C. Jones, trustee one year; William H. Newland, trustee two years; Frank A. LePell, trustee three years.

The lodge continued in the original quarters for a period of about five years, when William H. Gardner conceived the idea and practically on his own responsibility purchased the property at Main (now Lincolnway) and Lafayette streets, a two-story brick building 44x90 feet, located on a lot 44x132 feet, at a cost of $7,500, which some of the members thought the lodge could never pay for. Then he remodeled the premises to fit them for lodge and club purposes at an additional cost of $1,500, making a debt for the lodge to carry of $9,000. To some of the members this debt appeared as the "Sword of Damocles," suspended by a single chair.

The quarters were turned over to the lodge and the members at once redoubled their efforts to pay off the debt. The quarters were occupied by the lodge and club until about the first of October 1921. In 1921 the lodge decided to create an addition on the rear of the lot, 42x44 feet. A building committee was appointed and a two-story addition was erected, the upper part of which the lodge used for its meetings and receptions.

On October 21, 1921, the lodge purchased the building and grounds at the corner of Washington and Jefferson streets, the old Loring residence, then owned by Dr. J. R. Pagin. At the time it was expected to erect a lodge building on the vacant lot. This idea did not materialize and the building was sold on August 25, 1924, to the Valparaiso woman's club for $30,000.

The second floor of the old building was leased to the city board of education to house pupils who could not be accommodated at other buildings. On the morning of January 13, 1924, the old lodge building was destroyed by fire.

Shortly after the destruction of the old building there was a manifest desire among the membership to begin plans for a new and commodious home, the general desire being that a building should be built with all convenience and contained under a single roof. With such object in view a large amount of discussion was indulged in. Dr. Reginald L. Felton, exalted ruler, strongly favored such a move and gave it his earnest attention and every possible help. On motion, he at once appointed a ways and means committee of ten members, to begin the extraordinary steps, secure legal and expert advice, select location and in a general way be prepared in their report to the lodge to make some recommendations. The following me were then appointed:

Charles L. Jeffrey, chairman; Harry Pagin, John D. Stoner, J. A. Wise, W. S. Lindall, L. D. Bondy, R. L. Felton, M. R. Lowenstine, Charles Stinchfield, William Daly, and later as legal advisor.

Finally after considerable negotiations, Exalted Ruler Felton named the following building committee: Charles L. Jeffrey, chairman; M. R. Lowenstine, J. A. Wise, Harry Pagin, Exalted Ruler Felton; William Daly, legal advisor.

On April 24, 1924, Paul E. Marks, new exalted ruler, added the names of Trustees John D. Stoner and J. S. Bartholomew. The lodge also voted to buy the Lyman Dean property, 22x132, on the west of the lodge property. This addition gave the lodge frontage of sixty-six feet on Lincolnway and 132 feet on Lafayette.

The Foster Lumber and Coal Company, of Valparaiso, was the general contractor on the new building, erected at a cost of $225,000. Lyman Dan and sons, of Valparaiso, had the plumbing contract; M. J. Beach and Sons, Valparaiso, the heating; B. L. Carpenter, Valparaiso, the electric; Powers Automatic, Chicago, the heat control; J. L. G. Ventilating Company, of Chicago, the ventilating; J. C. McClintock Clock Company, Minnesota, the Master clock and units.

Officers at the period of building construction were: Paul E. Marks, exalted ruler; Dr. J. D. Keehn, esteemed leading knight; Otto Roth, esteemed loyal knight; E. D. Hodges, secretary; James McNay, treasurer; J. S. Wilcox, tyler; Joseph Carey, esquire; Frank Mannheim, chaplain; Carl Wahlberg, inner guard; M. E. Zimmerman, organist; J. A. Wise, John D. Stoner and J. S. Bartholomew, trustees.

The committee on the occasion of the laying of the coner stone of the new temple on October 2, 1924, were Dr. C. L. Bartholomew, George R. Beach and E. D. Hodges. C. R. Weatherhogg of Fort Wayne was supervising architect on the building for the Elk's Lodge.

The auditorium of the new Elks' building was dedicated with fitting ceremonies on Sunday, July 14, 1925, on the occasion of Flag day. Rev. E. Richard Edwards, pastor of the Christian church, of this city, made the address. Previous to the exercises at the new building, a parade, headed by a band and some fifty members, marched through the business section. Returning to the temple, under the leadership of Paul E. Marks, exalted ruler, the impressive flag ritual was observed. Talks were made by W. H. Clifford and John A. Hauff.

The new Elks' temple was formerly dedicated on August 18 to 20 when the Indiana Elks' Association held its annual meeting in Valparaiso. The city was in gala attire for the event and several thousand out-of-town Elks came for the two-day meeting. National and state officers of the lodge were guests.

The following members have served as exalted ruler of the lodge: Grant Mitchener, E. M. Burns, J. H. Wilson, L. D. Bondy, E. J. Gardner, Mox Ruge, Edward Heilstede, William H. Gardner (two terms), Eli N. Norris, Burton Sheffield, G. E. Bornholt, W. S. Lindall, Frank L. Faley, Julius Albe, Glen J. Hardesty, William B. Forney, C. H. Stinchfield, Ben H. Schenck, R. L. Felton, Paul E. Marks (two terms), Joseph S. Saunders, C. E. Foster, Howard D. Fishburn, E. F. Karow, John H. Fabing, C. E. Foster, Jr., Charles Reeves, Dr. M. B. Evie, E. J. Torbeson, Mox Ruge, Jr., and Harry Zimmerman, president exalted ruler.

Valparaiso Lodge, No. 500, like many new organized lodges, grew slowly during the early years of its existence, and while quietly growing, passed through all the trials and tribulations which usually accompany youth. Numerous vicissitudes came to the lodge, but they were borne with fortitude and determination.

Soon the lodge began to make progress. Petitions for membership began to come in in goodly numbers so the growth began to take on a substantial character.

While some worry was occasioned by the debt of $9,000 contracted in the purchase of the Lincolnway building, the lodge went ahead with the building of an addition in 1911, increasing the debt to $12,000. This debt was easily paid off, and the members began to look forward to the time when they could have a new home along lines which were built in 1924.

Despite the depression of the last half-dozen years, the lodge has managed to keep up, and at the present time has a membership of 200 members.

The following are the present officers of the lodge: Harry Zimmerman, exalted ruler; Charles Hubbell, leading knight; Waldo Walker, leading knight; Stephen Deckro, lecturing knight; John M. Fabing, secretary; Emil J. Torbeson, treasurer; Perry L. Sisson, trustee three years; Russell LaCount, organist; Paul Randall, esquire; Ben Koski, chaplain; Paul Skinner, inner guard; Mandel Lownestine, Glen J. Goddard and Frank Burk, finance committee.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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