A beloved beast in bronze sits beneath the central arch of a historic edifice, one of two visible clues that point to the past life of this Beaux-Arts building. The other symbol is a concrete slab directly above the elk’s head engraved with the letters “B.P.O.E.”
Land for the headquarters of the Alexandria Elks Club was purchased in 1902, the same year the chapter was founded. Plans for the lodge were drafted in 1909 and Lodge #758 was completed the following year. The former club building still stands on this spot.
The lavish club featured a nicely outfitted rathskeller, complete with gaming tables for billiards and cards. The elk is said to have been sculpted in Salem, Ohio, and was installed in 1910, two months before the club opened.
The building was sold to developers in the 1980s, but at the urging of erstwhile Mayor Charles E. Beatley, Jr., who argued that the elk was part of the “architectural fabric of the city,” the Elks begrudgingly agreed to leave their iconic idol behind.
The Elks built a new lodge at 7120 Richmond Highway in Alexandria, Virginia, but the first and last member of the original lodge remains a permanent resident at the original location.
Know Before You Go
The former Elks Lodge #758 building has been converted into condominiums, but the original elk statue and B.P.O.E. initials can be easily seen from the street.