Friday, October 9, 2020

The Elk’s Temple

Sounds like part of an Indiana Jones movie title, doesn’t it? It’s actually a hotel with a pub and taverns owned by the McMenamin family in one of the oldest parts of Tacoma. I had the pleasure of dining there recently, and I thought I’d share some of the history with you.

The gorgeous Beaux Arts era building was originally finished in 1916 and served as Lodge #164 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. It was one of the largest lodges in the country. The first floor originally held a gymnasium. The second floor featured a gorgeous ballroom and banquet room, while the third held a library, billiard room, card room, and dining room.

But, by 1965, the club was outgrowing its space. Most of the members had migrated to the suburbs, so the Elks followed. A few years later, the new owner opened it to the community to host events. At one time it held a theatre and a dinner theatre. But when he died in 1986, the building sat empty for decades.

Well, not entirely empty. A massive, white stone building at the end of the city center was too good to pass up for any graffiti artist in the area. Many snuck in at night to decorate the inside as well.

The McMenamins invested $34 million to renovate the building, but, as is the family’s style, they worked hard to preserve the history. Various hotel rooms are themed and named for people in Tacoma’s history, from politicians to musicians. The colors are vibrant, the décor as eclectic as it is historic.

If you’re out this way, I recommend dropping in for a tour and a bite at one of the pubs. There’s even a secret pub in the building as well as a “secret” fifth floor (none of the elevators and only one of the six stairwells reach it). On our visit, my husband and I found the fifth floor, but alas, the secret pub still eludes us.

Another reason to visit!

No comments: