B. P. O. Elks Lodge 860 (Sweeney and Main)

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B. P. O. Elks Lodge 860 (Sweeney and Main)


BPOE building The Elks Club home c1920–2011; northeast corner of Main and Sweeney.The North Tonawanda chapter of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks organizes around 1903. Early on they meet in the State National Bank building on Webster and Sweeney. By about 1920 they secure their own large red brick building at the corner of Main and Sweeney. In December 2011, this building is destroyed by fire. The fraternal organization now operates out of somewhat humbler quarters in Tonawanda. You may wish to drop in on their Facebook page, whose name bears eloquent witness of their exile to Main Street, Tonawanda: Twin Cities Lodge # 860 formerly known as North Tonawanda Lodge.

The national B. P. O. Elks is founded by English comic actor Charles Vivian in New York City in 1868. According to their website:
It All Began With the Jolly Corks. Starting as as a group of actors and entertainers bent on having fun AND avoiding a New York Excise tax in 1867 (Sundays were the ‘dry’ day), this convivial group called themselves the Jolly Corks (for a clever trick with corks they performed on the uninitiated to win rounds of drinks). That same year as membership grew, some members saw the vision to become more helpful in the community. Alas, two feuding factions split the group over different philosophies. Fortunately, the latter faction moved forward with their new ideals and in February of 1868, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was chartered–and with a great new spirit and direction, began to help Veterans, Scouting, Scholarships and more–wherever Charity, Justice and Brotherly Love were needed!