07 April 2021

Elks Club Block Redevelopment Proposal

Elks Club building, 2021. Located at 139 E South Temple.

The Elks Clubhouse at 139 E South Temple will soon undergo a renovation in which most of the building will be preserved and adaptively reused.

The proposal calls for a new building on the east parking lot, rehab the Elks Club, rehab of 6 houses on 1st Ave, and demolition of 1 house on 1st Ave.

As these buildings are within the local Avenues Historic District this proposal will come before the SLC Historic Landmark Commission (HLC), likely on May 6 2021, at which time public comment will be received. Details of the current proposal are on the SLC HLC’s website.

The Elks Club was built in 1923 for Lodge No 85 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The Elks were established in 1868 (1888 in SLC) and until relatively recently, restricted its membership to White males. Black males could join after 1972 and women could join after 1995.

This Elks Club on South Temple was the largest clubhouse ever built in Utah. It was designed by Scott & Welsh who also designed the Masonic Temple. It is made of red brick with cream terra cotta trim. Originally, it was 5 stories tall, not including the basement. The glass roof addition was added in the 1970s.

The original clubhouse was ornately designed with a marble finished lobby and gold leaf ceiling. The clubhouse also had sleeping quarters, library, billiard and card room, dining hall, kitchen, and a large auditorium with a collapsible stage. Large paintings of northern Utah’s Lake Mary and southern Utah’s Natural Bridges adorned the lodge room.

The main entrance was accessed through an elaborate exterior staircase. The Roman arch tunnel between the building and sidewalk leads to the basement, which housed the gymnasium at one point.

The current proposal will remove the staircase and tunnel and will expose the now-buried basement, which will then become the main entrance.

A similar proposal to remove the front stairs and tunnel was sought by a different organization in 2010 and was not approved by the SLC HLC. As such, they now remain intact (at least for now).

Elks Club building, 2021

Elks Club building, 2021

Elks Club building, 2021

Elks Club building, 2021

Elks Club building, 2021

Elks Club building, 2021. From SLC HLC staff report.

Proposal to modify the SLC Elks Club building. From SLC HLC staff report

SLC Elks Club building in 1922. From UDSH.

SLC Elks Club building in 1925. From UDSH.

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