A building in Bedford recently named to the Indiana Landmarks 10 Most Endangered places list could get another chance. The city says ownership of the historic Elks Lodge building has been transferred to the Bedford Urban Enterprise Association to help drive preservation efforts. April 30, 2015
BEDFORD, Ind. – A key exchange ceremony at the Lawrence County Museum marked the official transfer of ownership of the historic Elks Lodge building located at 1102 15th Street to the Bedford Urban Enterprise Association (BUEA). During the event words were also shared about the importance of historic preservation and its role in downtown revitalization on Tuesday evening to a room filled with Elks and community members alike.
Greg Sekula from Indiana Landmarks attended the event and stated “the Bedford Elks Lodge was chosen to be one of the structures placed on the organizations 10 Most Endangered – 2015 list because it helps bring public attention to imperiled sites and mobilize support for their preservation.” The application process was led by Joey Elliott with support from Susan Gales, President of BRI and Marla Jones, Director of Business & Community Development with the City of Bedford. Residents can view the 10 Most Endangered List at www.IndianaLandmarks.org where you can view information and interior pictures of the Bedford Elks Lodge that was constructed in 1917, as well as the other nine structures that made the list this year.
Talks regarding the fate of the Elks Lodge were initiated by Joey Elliott as the number of Elks members and funds declined to maintain the historic structure. The fear was that Elks Lodge, like the Greystone Hotel, would be lost without much needed attention. Joey was determined to insure that the Elks Lodge remain a central part of historic downtown Bedford and he enlisted the help of Larry Shaver, who has served in several leadership roles within the Elks Organization including Elks State President. “Less than a handful of other Elks Lodge buildings have been donated within the United States but national Elks leaders were willing to donate the building to a local non-profit or governmental entity” was the news shared by Larry after his communications with national Elks leaders.
Several individuals and organizations participated in conversations convened by Mayor Shawna Girgis regarding the preservation of the historic Elks building. Entities that expressed support of the donation include BRI (Bedford Revitalization, Inc.), the Lawrence County Community Foundation, Lawrence County Economic Growth Council, City of Bedford, Bedford Federal Savings Bank, Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce, Lawrence County Museum, BUEA, as well as others. Discussions were also held regarding the organization best suited to receive the donation. It quickly became clear that the BUEA was best positioned to receive the donation and preserve the building. “The BUEA is committed to being the caretaker of the historic Bedford Elks Lodge building until the best use and resources are identified to restore and renovate the structure. That is the pledge of BUEA to the Bedford Elks members and the community” remarked Harold Turner, President of the BUEA.
“This is a day of mixed emotions as it marks the absence of an active Elks Lodge in Bedford but I am thrilled that the historic Elks building has a caretaker that will insure that it remains a part of our community for many years to come,” stated Joey Elliott.
Mayor Girgis shared “I want to thank Steve Fergusson, George Ridgeway, and all of the staff from the Cook Group Engineering and Architecture Department for their recommendations regarding how best to seal the building to prevent future damage in preparation for a future historic preservation project. The Cook Group has extraordinary expertise in the area of historic preservation and we are very fortunate to have their guidance on how best to move forward.”
When the City of Bedford initiated its downtown planning efforts in 2011 one of the critical points that was shared by Rowena Cross-Najafi, Director of the Lawrence County Museum, was that “downtown revitalization is as much about what the community chooses to keep as it is about what the community chooses to build” and this is so true. Community leaders are committed to keeping the historic Elks Lodge. Today marks the beginning of a new journey for the historic building and the commitment of local citizens to insuring that it remains an integral part of downtown Bedford is critical.
Participating community organizations are in the process of developing a Friends of the Historic Elks Lodge Fund to aid with planning and future restoration costs associated with the building.
Source: The City of Bedford