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The Dalles former Elks Lodge (#0252)

The Dalles former Elks Lodge (#0252)
The elaborate Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) lodge and residence of The Dalles, built in 1910. I had always assumed that the BPOE primarily provided something akin to a ‘club’ where members could socialize, dine (and drink), and possibly engage in other recreational activities, but were not residences; per a sign at this one, it appears this also operated as something similar to a boarding house. Up until the 1970’s the Elks was a fraternal order for white males; in the 1970’s they lost the ability to exclude non-whites after racial discrimination suits, in the 90’s they began to admit women. The building is no longer used by the BPOE.

The seeming misfit of the current town with the detail of architecture and the size of structures such as this is a reminder, for me, of significant changes in the organization of American society. For much of the 20th century, when cities such as The Dalles were key and unique parts of the American economic, social, and political fabric, a structure of this scale would have seemed perfectly appropriate. However, with the population and economic shifts in the later 20th and early 21st centuries, such buildings now seem oddly grandiose in towns that are increasingly primarily way-stations on the way to ‘real’ life in the major urban cores.