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Board views mixed about planned Elks Lodge

Original post made on Aug 2, 2007

With dwindling membership and old facilities, the Palo Alto Elks Lodge is slated to undergo demolition and arise phoenix-like as a modern recreational complex styled to attract new members. Its planned transformation received a generally positive response during its preliminary review in Thursday's Architectural Review Board meeting, but hit a possible snag toward the end.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 2, 2007, 2:52 PM

Comments (21)

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Posted by Me
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 2, 2007 at 6:06 pm

Hope it has a shooting range in the basement as does the current club. I got asked to join and this was a big selling point to them. They also needed to know if I believed in God, was a communist and a citizen. That said, nice people.

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Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 2, 2007 at 6:44 pm

The noise the demolition and construction will make will be unbearable for our children!

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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2007 at 7:04 pm

It should have a South or South West facing roof so that solar electric and water can be added if not already planned for

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Posted by Michael
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 3, 2007 at 7:02 am

What is the membership fee? Thanks. Michael

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Posted by R
a resident of Barron Park School
on Aug 3, 2007 at 1:56 pm

I wonder if the Elks Lodge has overestimated their ability to recoup their costs in future memberships? I doubt it... I find that the "members" that I have met while at swim lessons at the CMAC classes held at Elks (for the last time before Elks is demolished) to be rather arrogant, unfriendly and downright rude... starting with Ernie. They have this feeling of righteousness, don't move over to the side for women with children (aren't they trying to gain the membership of these younger families?), only extend courteousness to the Caucasians (yes, I'm asian), ... I would never join and by the way, word spreads quickly on how rude these folks are. I went out with someone and mentioned it to them and the 2 ladies next to me said the same thing (and they were caucasian).

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Posted by tightwad
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 5, 2007 at 6:11 pm

The membership is indeed overwhelmingly old white guys who are quite bigoted. If you're not Italian or British, don't bother to try to make friends. For proof, just check their online calendar of events and go check out the outdoor picnics.

Also, they BPOE is supposed to be a charitable organization. Yet this particular lodge is ruled by a small but very influential minority of handball players who are the very antithesis of charity, so selfish in their own interests of turning the charitable lodge into the "Palo Alto Handball Club" (in 48pt type) with "and Elks Lodge" in 10pt type at the bottom of their sign. Charity is so alien to this group that controls this lodge. Also, by statute all members must be citizens of the USA. There are several playing buddies of this petite coterie who are not US citizens yet they get admitted as permaguests (there's also a statute about limiting visits to facilities by such people as they don't pay to join and never worry about the charitable aspect. Leeches.

Despite all the rhetoric about making this a lodge for younger people with families, it will still be an old boy's club. A new facade with fountains and multiple pools won't change the personalities of the ruling clique.

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Posted by Eddie Stankey
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 5, 2007 at 6:26 pm

As a former member, here is some info about joining:

1. Must be an American citizen - native born or naturalized
2. Must profess a belief in God
3. Must profess patriotism toward the USA
4. Must deny ever being a Communist

The year dues are about $350. This gets you into the basic lodge and club facilities (bar, dining room, card room, pool room.

If you want to be a member of the athletic facility, that will run $300 more per year. That gains you entrance into the indoor swimming pool, weight room, exercise equipment room, racketball courts, basketball court, jacuzzi, steam, sauna areas.

If you want to use the outdoor family pool from late May to mid-September, that will cost you per visit per person or you can get a family season pass for about $150. The trouble with the family pool is that it's shared by a swim school Mon-Thu so you can't bring your kids and expect to have much room to play.

If you want to join, you need to fill out an application form (stop by the office and ask for one). You then have to go through several interviews to confirm the above necessary requirements. You endure the three "in's" of Investigation, Indoctrination, and Initiation. Then you are scheduled for an initiation ceremony. This is a ritual that is over 100 years old. It lasts about 40 minutes. You are led into the lodge room, lined up in front of the Exalted Ruler (lodge president) and you are asked several questions. After that, you are given the initiation oath, which you must repeat while it is being given. Then you are given a short lecture by an officer, which includes a dialog between that officer and the Exalted Ruler. Then you are led to four different officers around the room, who collectively tell the story of what it means to be an Elk and what is expected of you. After that, the ritual is over and you get presented with a small American flag and some reading material, and everyone attending that lodge meeting (all five of them) will congratulate and welcome you into the order and the lodge.

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Posted by Non-believer
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2007 at 7:50 am

No wonder the Elks don't attract new young members. Number 4 "must deny ever being a Communist" is so 1950s!!!!! I'm even having a hard time right now with No. 3 "Must profess patriotism towards the USA" when George W. Bush is our leader, and with the war in Iraq!!!! No, count me out, I'll join something a little more accepting of diversity.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2007 at 9:29 am


Even 1 and 2 must be difficult around here, unless you include Allah or Buddah and allow the Jewish Jehovah.

Seriously, this could be a great community asset and we do need these in Palo Alto. We need more than the Ross Road Y. We need more of all the facilities that the Elks can provide. So it has to be up to them. If they want new membership then they must update their image. I am not too worried about the politics although I can understand others' concerns. But, this is an area where people have migrated from all over the world, and whatever their residential status, as long as it is legal, should be welcomed at any facility that PA community provides. There are many people here who are here for relatively short term, five years or less, and they need to be welcomed into the community not ostracised. The Elks Lodge needs to be part of the community and not exclusive in the sense that various members of the community are automatically excluded.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2007 at 9:34 am


This sounds like another "investigative article" in the works. Maybe some publicity (good or bad) is what they need to help them wake up.

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Posted by Colorado chick
a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2007 at 11:23 pm

I agree with the image comments. I worked at this nostalgic and historical property from the age of 16 to 24, which incidently was 20 years ago.And yes..back then it was booming and wholesome. My grandpa has always been an Elk in Southern Ca., but I have to say that the mentality of the old money, good old boys club does definately exist in Palo Alto. And as a 39 year California native, I have to just say that LEAVING that area of non stop development and money games was the best thing I ever could have done for my family. I say run away while you still can.

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Posted by dd
a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2007 at 11:57 am

The Elks is completely transparent in their mission and requirements for membership. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by count me in.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2007 at 7:34 am

Wow, bring up God and patriotism and the bigots sure come out of the closet, don't they?!!!! ( I like the way the usual bigots think that God doesn't include everyone's God)

I had no idea what the Elk's were..I am going to join! Relaxing in an island of sanity in a sea of hate would be nice!

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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 14, 2007 at 9:45 am

I find the idea of the Elks being considered "old money" pretty comical, a good old boys club, yes, but most Elks have been working class guys. (If you want old money, try the Circus Club...)

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Posted by Illinois Elk
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2008 at 11:34 am

I love that the Elks maintain their principles. In an era of 'feel-good' and 'tolerance', it is great that the BPOE remains as a solid foundation for good Americans. If prospective members don't believe in God or patriotism, they can go join a group of their own ilk. Don't try to change us to meke you more comfortable.

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Posted by Mom w/kids
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jun 19, 2008 at 10:26 am

Thanks for bringing this one up again. I hadn't seen it last year. We are new and attended CMAC classes last summer and considered joining the Elk's Lodge. My parents and I were born in America so we are Chinese-American. The Elks members I talked to were very nice and welcoming. So thank you for the posts above which tell the real story. Sounds a bit too old fashioned for Palo Altans. I'm liberal but a bit to the right and think the rituals are outdated. I wonder if they will still have those Greek rituals in fraternities and sororities when my kids get to college. Are University Club and Foothills Club the same story with the WASP attitudes? (If anyone would admit it...).

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Posted by Gene Cavanaugh
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2008 at 11:44 am

I am within the area served by the Palo Alto Elks, and was a member. I left, and have resisted requests that I return, but that does not mean that I do not like the members!
Like all "secret" organizations, the Elks generally, and Palo Alto Elks specifically, have gone somewhat astray. They no longer enforce their own rules of conduct (too much trouble) and no longer have a clear vision for charity.
That said, they are good people, and if they were not hiding behind the cloak of secrecy I would join them again.

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Posted by A Good Judge of Character
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jul 20, 2008 at 5:16 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by kathy
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 13, 2009 at 11:35 am

I recently met some members of the PA Elks and they were recruiting, I was pleased to see that a young woman was one of the officers so figured the Eks had evolved so to speak. But when I looked at the application when I got home, saw questions about the Communist party, belief in God etc, I felt like was back in the 50's hiding under my desk in case the Commies dropped an A bomb on us!! Give me a break, if they want to survive they need to come into ther 21st century. A few years ago I called to ask about membership and got a rather unfriendly person on the phone, so at this point, not really interested. With that said, I will not be carrying on the family tradition of being a member of the BPOE.

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Posted by ChrisG
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm

If you can't comply with the four conditions, who says they even want to hang out with you in a private, social club? Go join a country club. Clubs seek people with common beliefs, principals and goals. Too many people in PA think everything should be all inclusive. Yes, diversity in everyday life is extremely beneficial, but gathering with people who share some basic principals seems fine to me. If you are a commie, i.e. against democracy, are your feelings really hurt by these people not wanting to be your friends? If you are not partiotic, why the heck would you want to hang around people that are proud to be patriots? Should Veterans of Foreign Wars lodges allow anti-war protestors and draft dodgers to join? Give me a break with all of your mamsy pansy (sp?) stuff.

The new lodge looks really nice.

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Posted by Thanks, Chris
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 13, 2011 at 5:28 am

Chris G..well said.

Totally agree. This is America, still...and we have the right to associate with whomever we wish. I, personally, like the sounds of being able to hang out with those who believe in a God of some sort, love America, are against Communism, and have a grand tradition of such great volunteer work ..sounds like me!

There are plenty of clubs for those who don't like the sounds of this one. Go to them if you don't like it.

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