ellingham's first members of the
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks' held their meetings in private
homes, then began renting various rooms available in the city and finally
built this two-story brick clubhouse in 1912. Built in the second major real
estate boom, along with the Federal Building and Citizen's Dock, the Elks
club is one of downtown Bellingham's finest formal street fronts. The Elks
Club is also significant as a monument to the importance of fraternal clubs
in the early 20th century.
The architect, William Cox, was praised for designing the most handsome
fraternal lodge in the state. The vivid street front facade is composed of
blond brick framed with a light stone arch, uncommon in the usually dark
Romanesque style, with sandstone steps leading up to it. Originally, the
offices were located on the first floor and a large meeting room and a
kitchen were on the second. In the basement, a member could play card games,
pool, or even bowl.
The BPOE building had its interior extensively remodeled in 1938 adding a
marquee with an Art Moderne flair. The bowling alley was removed in the late
1940's and in 1960 the kitchen was moved to the first floor. In 1971 the
Elks sold this lodge and relocated to a clubhouse along Samish Way. Within a
year the building sat empty, continuing for five years. Beginning in 1976
the BPOE building has housed a variety of different uses, including a dance
Surprisingly, the changes made to the interior of the Elks club did not
significantly effect the exterior. The ornate cornice still bears the
building's name and the construction date, the second floor windows have
retained their unusual arches and the white columns and trim still
accentuate the light brick facade.
For more information see the
BPOE Building National Register of Historic Places Nomination.