Elks in Hawai‘i

Elks in Hawai‘i

History of Lodge #616

Honolulu Lodge 616 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks is now more than 119 years old. Elks in Hawaii began in 1901, with no home at all, when the Lodge address was “Hawaii, TH” for Territory of Hawaii.

119 Years of
Elks in Hawai‘i

On April 15, 1901, Jerome B. Fisher, Grand Exalted Ruler, called a meeting to order for the purpose of installing Honolulu Lodge No. 616. The Lodge met in rented rooms in Progress Hall at the corner of Fort and Beretania Streets in downtown Honolulu. Progress Hall, a lava block structure, still anchors the mauka end of Fort Street Mall where it has been used by Hawaii Pacific University for offices and classrooms.

In September 1901, the Hawaii Elks announced that the unfinished structure at the corner of Miller and Beretania Streets would be their new home under a long lease. With renovations completed the “antler wearers and the ladies” partied on November 20, 1901. Entertainment was home-grown: a “cello solo by Brother Tobriner”, “Mr. Couzens recited Casey at the Bat,” and “music by Prof. Berger.” That’s Elk member Henry Berger, Bandmaster of the Royal Hawaiian Band.

Many Homes B

The Timeline of Our History

Voyage to Hawaii (1898)
With thousands of lodge chapters opening troughout the nation – since the initial creation in New York in 1867 – BPOE made its way into Honolulu after annexation in 1898 Judge Jerome B. Fisher, Grand Exalted Ruler of the BPOE, made a special voyage to Hawaii to preside at the opening of Honolulu Elks Lodge No. 616, when he and Mainland members landed in Honolulu in April 1901.
Early Elks Baseball (1903)
PLAY BALL! Umpires called 616 Elks to the baseball diamond for the first time on a bright Saturday in 1903. It was a day to savor after an on-off beginning to the location, League organization, and Elk participation. The Elks played the Kamehamehas in their first ever game. The Elks lineup retained Brown, Cunha, Kaal, Gorman, and Moore. New were King, Meyer, pitcher Perrine, and Taylor. Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures from 1903 so this image is from Elks playing baseball in the 1930s.
01.19-04 Parade in front of Elk's Club
World War I (1914)
Hawaii may have been remote from the beginnings of World War I in June 1914, but residents felt compassion for all victims of the war. As ‘Europe’s war’ began in 1914, Elks meeting agendas focus on their Kamehameha Day Committee, financial support for the Salvation Army July 4th children’s picnic, and finding a permanent lodge site. 
A Piece of Waikiki (1920)
After gaining popularity with their unique and theatrical fundraisers and carnivals—which included the 1911 standing-room-only showcase of hula and geisha performances—Mrs. Castle, wife of prominent Honolulu businessman James B. Castle, sold the Elks their 155,000-square-foot property in the then countryside of Waikiki, a property she could not tend to after her husband’s passing in 1918.
FDR Presidential Library
Hawaii’s First Presidential visit (1934)
In 1934, the US President and Hawaii Governor were Elks. Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Hawaii on July 24-28, 1934, the first President to do so. The visit was a stopover on a cruise starting July 1, 1934, at Annapolis, through the Panama Canal to Portland. Local headlines in every language used in Hawaii heralded his visit. Photo from the FDR Presidential Library.
Lodge officers members 1942
War Comes to 616 Elks (1941)
The Dec 7, 1941, attack caused chaos in Honolulu. In the next few days Oahu families found space in their homes for military wives and children from Schofield, Pearl, and other bases. Although Grand Lodge’s Elks War Commission offered to take Hawaii Elk children under a program to house war zone evacuees at the Elks National Home, none apparently went. The Elko, NV, lodge stands out as sending funds to aid Oahu.
1921 Flag Day
National Flag Day (1949)
For many years the Elks tried to get the United States government to proclaim a day just for our American Flag. It took another Elk, President Harry S. Truman, to set June 14th as our national Flag Day.
Outrigger Canoe Club (1954)
Between 1954 and 1956, Outrigger Canoe Club made several offers to purchase about half the Castle property. All were refused. Eventually, in 1955, Lodge 616 approved a resolution to lease property to Outrigger. Negotiations continued, and a lease was signed effective November 17, 1956.
present day lodge
Rebuilding the Lodge (1958)
After much debate, with regret, in 1958 the Lodge determined to raze a termite infested Kainalu and rebuild. After an April gala aloha event, the old Lodge was demolished in June of 1959. Ground breaking for the new building took place on August 17, 1959 and on June 20, 1960, the first meeting was held in a new building, the present lodge building.
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