Harden Boulevard 1987
The committee continued to look for a new home and finally a beautiful piece of wooded property consisting of six acres with a brick home was located on Harden Boulevard. We decided to meet in the house while we built a new home on the property. In order to purchase this property we needed: Elks state approval, Grand Lodge approval and the County Commissioners, which finally passed by a 4-3 vote.
Zoning variances were approved in September 1986, which changed the zoning laws from residential to special zoning in order to accommodate our usage. Our lounge opened in the house of our new property March 29, 1987. April 7, 1987, saw our first meeting at our new home. Fourteen officers and 8 members attended. We started a building fund and with various donations our fund raised $22,500.00 by October 1987.
Architectural plans were drawn, and the Dennis Compton Contractors built a brand new building which would become our new home. We celebrated the laying of the slab with a gala slab party and dance in August 1987. Kegs of beer were donated by Jimmy Musso. A ring, donated by P.E.R. Frank Ziegele and valued at $2,000.00 was won by Kirk Fry. Finally on February 9, 1988, our lodge was completed and we held our first meeting in our new home.
It is interesting to note that in the infancy of our lodge, we first met at the Morgan Cover building on Rose and Kentucky Avenues. Later we moved to the J.L. Skipper Building on Main Street before we built our first new home. Sixty-seven years later, we again moved to two locations, to Woodlake Country Club and then to 2327 East Edgewood Drive, before building our new home as we had done in 1917.
The Flag of our country means many things to each of our members, but mainly it symbolizes the patriotism we feel for our country. Among Elks, especially those of our Lakeland Lodge, pride of our country and flag is most evident. One of the first things we did in June 1987, was to erect our Flag Pole at the entrance to our property and our Elk made his last move from where he was stored at Goddard Signs to be placed next to the Flag. I see a smile of contentment on his face as he again stands majestically guarding the entrance to our Lodge.
In June, 1989, our Lodge initiated our first Charity Golf Tournament and our Lodge lead the “Say No to Drugs” parade downtown. In 1980 our mortgage was $100,000.00 for 15 years @ 12.5%. Our trustees were able to reduce our mortgage to $50,000.00 @ 11% which increased our payment $60.00. With various donations, fund raisers and cake sales, our Lodge paid off the mortgage in January 1983. Now we are debt free, so our Lodge started a building fund from member donations and cash from aluminum can recycling. In April 1990, our new ER, Doug Schmidt, was installed by his father Alton Schmidt, P.E.R., which was a first at our Lodge. In June of that years, at the State convention, our Lodge was awarded first place having 510 pints of blood available for use.
The interesting thing about history is that it never stops changing. The Grand Lodge Statues were changed during the 1996 convention to allow women to be initiated into Elkdom. This was also a controversial subject, and while some lodges were shocked, we at Lodge #1291, accepted the change in stride. We welcomed Johnnie Moody, sponsored by Robert Powers, as our first lady member on initiation night August 20,1996. In Februaryi, 1996, Jim Crosby reported on phase 2 remodeling of the Lodge which was approved by the Grand Lodge and would soon begin. In August, 1996, Larry Copperman reported to the Lodge that our membership had reached 800. The Lodge also purchased a shed in which to store our tables, chairs and such.
In October 1991 Al Leonard, our ER told us about the September 11, 1991, disaster and our Lodge donated $1,000.00 to the relief fund. In April 2000, our Lakeland Lodge broke new ground by initiating our first female Exalted Ruler, Daisy Libbert. She broke the barrier and opened the door for others to follow.
In June 2002, our Lodge had a controversial meeting and by August, Jim Crosby was elected for his second term as our ER. Our membership now reached a high of 950. The year 2003 saw many improvements in our lounge area and Lodge. Some of these were a new cash register, update of our electrical system and a new concrete parking area for our member bikers. This year our Lodge celebrated it’s 90th birthday with a semi-formal dinner/dance with various speakers.
August 24, 2003, Lakeland Lodge went “smoke-free” which was mandated by the State of Florida. Many did not agree which caused us a membership drop. We eventually added a smoke room porch to accommodate our smokers in 2004. The same year, our Lakeland Lodge Bulletin won state rewards for first place during the years 1990, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2001 and 2003. We also won state second place during the years 1994, 1997 and 1998. In addition, we won national acclaim for winning second in 1995 and third in 1990.
At the end of the year 2005, it was reported that our Lodge had endured 3 hurricanes, a hole in our roof, 4 flooded floors, 2 broken toilets, a forgetful computer, 2 house committees. 2 secretaries, 5 bartenders, 3 trustees and a condemned deck. This was bad but our Lodge survived and we went on. Bill Pfeil, our organist, resigned because of health problems after 21 years of service. His dedication was unmatched.
In September 2006, the Trustee’s reported that our entrance way, the driveway and the parking area were to be improved by the laying of asphalted concrete. The cost was $18,321.00 which we borrowed against our current CD. This was approved by our Lodge. Although many improvements have been made to our Lodge since our beginning here in 1987, our membership continues to fall. At last report it was down to 514. We are presently working to improve this situation. On a sad note, our Lakeland Lodge Elkmates disbanded in March 2009 because of a lack of members. In 1996 ladies were authorized to become Elks and were not allowed to do both. As of 2011, the rules have changed and the ladies can be part of both. Our Lodge is presently resurrecting the Elkmates. In September 2009, our Exalted Ruler, Hank Schaus, reported that our kitchen remodeling was finished and was ready for use.
In October 2010, our Lodge Secretary Ted Martzloff reported on the dire financial situation that our Lodge was in and that we would have to cash in our $22,500.00 building fund CD. He also recommended some changes that were needed to improve our financial situation. We did these and the financial situation is now looking brighter than ever.
I can attest to the bright future our Lodge is in today. This is due to the many volunteers that gave of their time and/or money that kept this Lodge going. Today we enjoy many different types of entertainment put on by our volunteers. We conduct Monday golf by our members and support golf tournaments throughout the year; Tuesday night meetings; Wednesday night dinners, Thursday night darts, Friday night shuffleboard tournaments; Saturday evening dinner and dances, and Sunday morning breakfast, afternoon hamburgers and Sunday NFL football games.
These past 100 years of success stem from the many volunteers that made this happen along with our Exalted Rulers and our Lady Presidents.