Elks Club revitalized
with opening of new lodge
mat is out for
prospective members at club
(September 2010) Four years after a catastrophic
fire destroyed its lodge on West Street in downtown Madison, Ind., the
Madison Elks Lodge No. 534 has completed the renovation of its new home
at 1251 W. Main St.
Open is the new watchword at the lodge. It is open to the
public for lunch and welcoming to those who want to join.
by Laura Hodges
and Susan Kindle enjoy lunch
with their grandson, Alex, at the
newly renovated Madison Elks Club.
Formerly the Madison Country Club, the location at the
west end of Main Street offers an attractive package for those seeking
a quiet, elegant yet casual dining venue.
The recent renovation, completed for less than the budgeted $250,000,
included new wiring and an upgraded walk-in refrigerator for the kitchen,
modernized restrooms, new lighting fixtures for the banquet hall, a
screened porch and flat screen televisions everywhere.
The result is a comfortable dining room for cozy luncheons and convivial
dinner parties, as well as an elegant banquet hall that can be rented
for special occasions. Members get a discounted rental rate. The hall
seats 80 people comfortably.
Tony Steinhardt, who leads the lodge as Exalted Ruler, is says he is
proud to have the renovation complete. Its a nice atmosphere.
It allows us to go ahead and do our work in the community, he
With the new building, the Elks have hired a new food manager, Kelly
Knight. As head chef, she created a menu that features old favorites
as well as more challenging cuisine. Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tuesday through Friday. Senior cook Brent Thacker is the grillmaster.
Knight learned to cook watching her grandmother make comfort food like
chicken and dumplings. Now a graduate of Sullivan University culinary
school, she has studied under elite chefs and has operated her own Madison
eatery, Humble Pie Kitchen.
Elks member Camille Fife said it is Knights facility with both
classic country cooking and haute cuisine that makes her so valuable
to the Elks. They are hoping that the open lunch hours will draw more
people into lodge membership.
The dining room and bar are open to the public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tuesday through Friday. In addition to those hours, Elks members can
use the dining room and bar from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Friday
and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays.
The building now in use as the Elks Lodge and its grounds have as varied
a history as any property in Madison. The home was built around 1842
as the private family home of John W. and America Hunter. Next to the
Hunter property was land owned by Jesse Whitehead. Whitehead donated
his land for use as a fairgrounds, and in 1854 the Indiana State Fair
was held there.
During the Civil War, the former Hunter and Whitehead properties became
the site of Madison General Hospital, the second largest military hospital
for Union troops. The hospital was built at the request of Gen. William
McKee Dunn, a congressman and native of Jefferson County. The former
Hunter home became the commandants residence.
by Laura Hodges
the Madison Country Club,
the location at the west end of
Main Street offers an attractive
package for those seeking a quiet,
elegant yet casual dining venue.
During the period 1875-1900, the Beech Grove Trotting
Association was formed, taking its name from the impressive beech grove
near the Hunter house. The association purchased the Hunter and Whitehead
properties and built a half-mile track for harness racing. Historic
photos show paddlewheeled steamboats docked near the track as race fans
flocked to Madison for a day of racing. Later, in 1901, the Beech Grove
Park was converted for use as a summer-long Chautauqua. During the Chautauqua,
families pitched tents on the property and enjoyed cultural entertainment
such as lectures, music and plays. The Chautauqua continued at this
location until 1929.
The Madison Country Club was formed in 1913 and was a popular retreat
in its day. One could swim, play tennis and golf right on the premises.
The country club disbanded in 2003. The property was owned for a while
by Crooked Creek LLC, a group of about 30 former country club members,
then sold to Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corp., which operates the Clifty
Creek Power Plant. The nine-hole golf course is now privately operated
as the River Chase Golf Club. IKEC granted the Elks a 20-year lease
on the clubhouse building
John Rees, Elks head trustee, said the property is very well suited
to the Elks needs. Its superb. Its a good asset
to the community, said Rees. Noting that Mayor Tim Armstrong and
the city of Madison encouraged the Elks to utilize this location, Rees
said, Its a good partnership that makes use of a historic
The motto of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is Elks
Care, Elks Share. Steinhardt pointed out that the lodges
primary mission is charitable. Projects focus on youth, veterans and
For example, the Elks Community Activities Committee is currently
collecting new shoes in childrens sizes to donate to the Salvation
Army. The community has a big need for shoes at back-to-school time,
according to Don Wells, who chairs the committee. At Christmas time,
40 children receive gifts through the Elks generosity.
Another Elks program presented $4,500 in college scholarships to four
Jefferson County recipients last year. The Elks Hoop Shoot is another
popular youth program.
Veterans are a continuing concern for the Elks. Members are currently
using a raffle to purchase a mobility bicycle for a disabled
vet. Raffle tickets are available at Riverboat Inn, River Valley Financial
Bank (downtown), Burris Electric & Plumbing Supply and the lodge.
As its part in the statewide fundraising for cancer research, the Madison
lodge will play host to a golf scramble at River Chase Golf Course on
Sept. 18. Proceeds will go to cancer research at Indiana University
and Purdue University. The Elks National Foundation matches all the
money Indiana Elks raise to fight cancer.
We need members! is the emphatic message from Rees, the
During the time the Elks were temporarily housed on First Street, membership
had dipped to 240, but since the new location was dedicated on May 15,
membership has climbed to 305.
Membership in the Elks Lodge is open to
men and women of good character who are U.S. citizens. New members must
be sponsored by a current member. The membership fee is $100 per year,
with a one-time initiation fee of $50. Those interested in joining can
contact any Elks member or Steinhardt at (812( 866-2400.
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