By Matt Carter
Central City has a long and enduring history. The city has survived a city-wide fire in 1874, a flu epidemic in 1918, and transitions from mining to tourism to gambling markets. The city has hosted a Republican Convention, President Ulysses S. Grant, and scientist Marie Curie throughout its history. The city has had its share of high points and low points. One of the sources of stability throughout its history has been the Central City Lodge of Elks B.P.O.E. #557.
The Elks Lodge was organized and founded on March 16th, 1900. Membership was recorded as being thirty three people during the inception of the lodge. By 1902, the membership swelled to two hundred members and the lodge purchased their current location and moved in April, 1902. This was possible due largely to the efforts of Dr. Ashbaugh and George Williams. A third floor was completed shortly after and the Elks have operated out of this building since then.
Throughout the lodge’s history they have made key contributions to the community. These have included supporting youth, athletic, and academic programs. Throughout their history, the Elks members have contributed to the purchase of food and distribution to families in times of need during the holidays. Some of these programs were supported solely by the Elks Lodge when there were no other organizations available.
It is due to this history that the relevance of the Elks’ Lodge has continued to endure even to this day. Recently the current Elks’ leadership has taken on the task of renewing the lodge. This has involved the replacement of the floor, carpets throughout the lodge, and windows. Specific features of the lodge such as the Elks’ Museum have been moved to better locations throughout the building, and smaller rooms such as the game room have been given a polished facelift.
The Elks are gearing up to be considered as a location of choice for special events, weddings, parties, and as a community meeting place. The Elks are hosting a Pot Luck Dinner at 6:30 p.m. with Bingo at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 21st and want to make sure that the community knows they are invited. The Elks are also organizing a public open house to showcase the changes made to the lodge, and to be able to show that despite everything that has occurred over the past 100 year, that the Elks are still here and happy to be part of the Gilpin community.