Old B-P-O-Elks Lodge Building, Newburgh, New York
In the heart of crusty old Newburgh, New York is a plethora of architectural wonderment and it is our plan, sometime soon, to extol certain of these built virtues! In the mean time, we must reserve our initial impressions for a newer historical building that we thought might be overlooked in a town of 19th century architectural bliss.
A town in which its hay day took place in the fun-filled 19th century wouldn’t be complete without a dedication to benevolence and protection or, more specifically, a local chapter of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks–the B-P-O-Elks Organization…
All of this was true in Newburgh, New York. Founded as a national organization in 1868, the Newburgh Chapter of the B-P-O-Elks came later in the same century. While the organization always had a local, “dignified” presence, it clarified this presence in 1930, commissioning James Riely Gordon (1863-1937). an architect of both Texas and New York, to design a new, lodge building in the 100 block of North Liberty Street, reflecting the Beaux Arts taste. Gordon had previously designed other lodge buildings in New York State. The building was and remains characterized by a projecting semi-circular portion as its primary facade with simple, covered stoop entrances on each side. The not-for-profit featured art glass, a dumbwaiter, bowling alleys, electric lights, office memos, and a clock.
The Elks have since removed from their heavenly hall leaving it for dead (actually sold it) and the place has grown custom to vandalism and unorthodox rouses. At some point after its construction, a wonderful, yet absurd, faux elk was placed in front of the building. As seen above, this elk has been blinded by a tit-sling probably in an act of dramatic symbolism and/or jest by either the building’s new owner or, more probably, particulars of the local hoodlums. Apparently, this isn’t the first time the old Newburgh elk was blinded by some such nuisance, as their former architect, James Gordon, was suing the lodge for some such reason in the mid 1930s in Gordon v. Elks Lodge. Poo Poo to the local chapter for abandoning not only downtown, but also their historic home place. Blind or not, we reserve a “bottoms up” to the remaining old elk of historic Newburgh.