Living

Gulfport's BPO Elks building built in 1914

By Murella H. Powell

POSTCARD COURTESY RANDY RANDAZZOEven this imposing building from which the Gulfport Elks performed their many good works and charities could not withstand Camille.
POSTCARD COURTESY RANDY RANDAZZOEven this imposing building from which the Gulfport Elks performed their many good works and charities could not withstand Camille.

On June 11, 1914, after nine years of steady growth from 50 to 200 members, the Gulfport Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Club 978 gathered to dedicate a new four-story brick building on 14th St. between 24th and 25th avenues as their new lodge.

The program included the laying of a cornerstone, which served as a time capsule. The items placed within were comprised of a June 10, 1914, Daily Herald newspaper; a Bible; the constitution and by-laws of the local and grand lodges; a $1 United States coin dated 1905, the year the Gulfport lodge was founded; two miniatures of the cornerstone; a list of charter and active members, past exalted rulers, officers and committees; and a copy of the dedication-day program.

The cornerstone consisted of two marble slabs inscribed with the names of the building committee, the architect, the builder, the exalted grand ruler. Also inscribed were "B.P.O. Elks, 978. Erected 1914," and "Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love, Fidelity," the four attributes upon which the Elks were founded.

Unfortunately these items were never seen by future generations. On Aug. 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille destroyed the building and all of its contents.

Murella H. Powell, a local historian, writes the weekly Flashback column. Do you have a local photograph to submit to Flashback? It can be of any subject or event in the Coast's distant or recent past. Please send a description with your name, address and daytime phone number to Flashback, the Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535; or call 896-2424; or email living @sunherald.com.

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