website  watertownhistory.org

    ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin

 

Elk’s Club

Watertown Elks Lodge No. 666

Old Concordia Opera House

Established 1901

117 N First

 

The historic Elks Lodge building was built in 1888 and opened as the Concordia Opera House, which housed two theaters, the Empire and the Colonial, both featuring film and vaudeville acts with admission of 10 to 30 cents.  The Watertown Elks purchased the building on Jan. 5, 1916, and added an ice cream parlor in the lower level of the building in 1917.  They also updated the dining area and added custom furniture.  In the next few years, the Elks completed various updates in the interior of the building, including a coal stoker in 1934, a conversion of the grillroom into a bar in 1937 and the addition of two pin setting machines for the bowling alleys located in the lower level in 1938.  At this time, the Elks also installed a golf driving net in the upper room.

 

The current lodge still retains remnants of the bowling alley and original 1937 updates in the lower level, along with a modernized kitchen area.  The main floor features mission era custom tables designed by an Elks Lodge member to reflect the authentic period of when the building was first purchased.

 

The Elks Lodge holds parties, gatherings and weddings of members and guests.  The Elks have also been active in the community by providing free Christmas dinners, a Flag Day ceremony at Veteran’s Memorial Park, student scholarships, hospital equipment donations, a drug prevention program, Hoop Shoot program, post prom party and youth banquet.  The Elks also honor veterans through a free veteran’s luncheon, as well as other services.  The Wisconsin Elks major project supports handicapped children at Camp Wawbeek during the summer months.

 

 

1888      CONSTRUCTION OF THE CONCORDIA OPERA HOUSE

   The Elks purchased the Opera House on Jan. 5, 1916. 

 

1889

04 05       MRS. FELD ENCHANTED THE AUDIENCE . . .

The concert Monday evening at Concordia Opera House given under the auspices of the Concordia Society, was one of the most remarkable musical entertainments ever given in our city.  And with such distinguished and accomplished artists as Messrs. B. Steindel, E. Bare, J. G. Beyer and Mrs. C. R. Feld, how could it be otherwise?  . . . Mrs. Feld enchanted the audience with her charming vocalization of “One Spring Morning,” which necessitated a response to an encore.  Mr. Beyer, the tenor, rendered two waltz songs, which were well received . . .

 

Mrs. Feld is especially to be congratulated on the great success scored by her.  Her stage presence was a perfect picture of composure, and her beautiful voice, while not of a strong or robust character, is as musical and enchanting as is that of the sweet bird warbler.  Her work at the piano in the trios was also a marvel of correct and exquisite finish, and greatly delighted her audience with its superior excellence.  When it is taken into consideration that Mrs. Feld sung two numbers, took part in two trios, one in German and one in English, and responded to an encore in the second number, besides her work at the piano, it will be seen that her labors were necessarily severe and exacting.  Our music-loving people are also under obligations to this lady for securing the talented gentlemen, Messrs. Steindel, Bare and Beyer.   WR

 

06 20       PICNIC, COMMENCEMENT, ALUMNI BANQUET

The annual picnic of our public schools will be held next Friday afternoon on Concordia Island.  All the schools, with the exception of the high school, will close the day before, the latter continuing to have sessions next week.  The high school commencement exercises will take place on Friday evening June 30 and the alumni banquet will be given July 1 at Concordia Opera house.   WR

 

1901      ESTABLISHMENT OF

Watertown Elks Lodge #666 was established by 38 charter members on March 22, 1901. The lodge was granted its dispensation that same day and the charter was granted at the Grand Lodge session on July 25, 1901.

 

In 1901, The Watertown Elks Lodge was chartered by BPOE.  Through the years the Lodge has made an impact on the community i.e., various programs for the youth and veterans, establishing the Home Health Care Equipment program, furnishing Christmas meals on Christmas day for the elderly and shut-ins, and other activities . 

 

06 07       ELKS' PHANTOM PARADE ON 4th OF JULY

The phantom parade and dance at 11 o’clock on the night of July 4th by the local lodge of Elks will wind up festivities of that day.  This will take place on West Main and Main streets, the entire length of the paved portion of the streets.  The Elks will be attired in white sheets and masks and will dance to the music of a brass band.  The street will be darkened for the occasion, but a various points along the line of the dance, green fire will add interest to the spectacle.  Don’t fail to see this feature of the celebration.   WG

 

10 25       RECEPTION AT NEW CLUB ROOMS

On Tuesday evening the Watertown Lodge of Elks gave an informal reception at their new club rooms on Main Street, the affair taking the nature of a house-warming, and was for members of the lodge and their families only.  The rooms were most tastefully decorated for the event.  Luncheon was served at 9:30, followed by dancing, music being-furnished by Hardege’s orchestra.  Misses Clara Hoermann and Elsa Schempf presided at the punch bowl.  It was one of the most delightful informal affairs ever given here, and greatly appreciated by those present.   WG

 

1902      In 1902 the local Elks Lodge occupied quarters on the third floor of the Daub Building, 10 E. Main St., and moved in 1907 to the third floor of the Masonic Temple, which was inhabited by the Fischer's Department Store for many decades.

 

1903      SECOND ANNUAL BALL

02 14       The second annual ball of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of this city was held last Friday evening at Turner opera house.  Over 100 couples took part in the affair, and a large number of spectators were admitted to the gallery.  It was by far the most elaborate and dressiest ever held here, and the decorations were perfectly grand.  Three large arches spanned the center of the hall.  They were draped in purple and white, and studded with electric lights.  The balcony railing and pillars were also draped in purple and white, and festooned with purple and white chrysanthemums hung all around the hall, and many cozy corners were arranged and beautified for the pleasure and accommodations of the dancers. . . . Above the stage entrance a large panel was suspended, which bore the number of the lodge in purple incandescent lights, and below which hung a horologe for the Elks indicating the hour of eleven.  The hour being sounded, the musical, and all was still as death, and W. C. Leitsch, of Columbus, made a brief address, reminding the Elks present of the hour's significance.  Each Elk held his right hand aloft during Mr. Leitsch's remarks at the conclusion of which the dance proceeded.   WG

 

08 11       ELK’S SOCIAL BALL

Last week the social ball given by the local lodge of Elks at Tivoli Island was attended by almost 100 couples.   The island presented a very charming appearance.  It was electric lighted, and here and there Japanese lanterns added to the beauty of the illumination, the fountain was at full play, and the weather was perfect for an evening of pleasure at this popular resort.

 

At 8 o'clock the evening's program opened with a concert by the Apollo orchestra of 14 pieces, all home musicians, under the able direction of Edward L. Schempf. The musical program ended at 9:15. The music rendered was of a very high order, and was thoroughly enjoyed by all present.

 

Dancing began at about 9:30 and at the conclusion of the second number Herman Wertheimer announced that refreshments were ready and all present availed themselves of the excellent luncheon served by the Ohm Bros.

 

Music for the dance was also furnished by the Apollo orchestra, and the merry dancers all proclaimed that no better music has ever been rendered here. This orchestra has been popular with our people since its organization and is daily growing more so.

 

At midnight the social came to a close and the many people present pronounced the Elks capital entertainers, and the management were the recipients of numerous congratulations for the success of the event and the Apollo orchestra was highly complimented for the captivating music furnished.   WDT

 

1908

11 27       Memorial Day observed by local lodge on December 6th, in Masonic Temple   WG    

 

1909

01 08       New Year ball at Masonic Temple hall given by the Elks    WG

02 19       Elk’s ball at Turner opera house, Washington's birthday    WG

04 02       Election of officers    WG

04 02       Elks Baseball Club    WG

12 31       Elks Present Christmas Gifts:  Last week the local lodge of Elks distributed a large number of good things to eat, other necessities of life, toys for the little ones, etc., to those of our citizens who were not blessed with full and plenty at this season of the year.  Their work in this line is very commendable.    WG

 

c. 1910

ELK’S SOCIAL

  

 

1911

03 09       CONCORDIA OPERA HOUSE SOLD

Harry Davis of this city, the moving picture film manufacturer, has purchased the Concordia Opera House, consideration $5700.  Mr. Davis has secured a very cheap property and intends making many fine improvements on the building.   WG

 

1915

02 18       ELKS MINSTRELS

Friday, February 12th, was another red letter day to the fun lovers of Watertown, it being the occasion of the recent appearance of the Elk’s Minstrel’s.  The assembly room of the Masonic Temple was filled with an audience ready and willing to be amused and they were not disappointed for from the time that the curtain separated at 8:30 o’clock and the opening choruses were sung, to the final disappearance of the black artists, it was a continual succession of pleasant and witty things said and done and sung.

 

As interlocutor, Dr. Ralph Kayson filled the position admirably taking the jokes aimed at him with as much apparent zest and enjoyment as those shafts sent in other directions.  The entire circle was good as usual, but we cannot resist particular mention of the solo by the ever popular baritone, Mr. Wm. Sproesser.  The audience was fairly breathless as he sang that old time favorite “Way Down Upon the Swanee River.”  The refrain was taken up and softly sung by the quartette; there was a strange dimness in the eyes of many.

 

Zeno Walthers in the singing of “When you Wore a Tulip and I Wore a Big Red Rose,” R. M. Hahn in “In the Hills of Old Kentucky” and E. O. Wolfram in “The Bell Buoy” each contributed largely.to the success of the program.  The quartette consisting of E. L. Schempf, Wm. Sproesser, O. E. Meyer and Max Rohr sang “Keep Agoing” and as an encore “The Baldheaded Man,” they certainly scored a great hit. 

 

The end men consisting of Gordon H. Bacon, Jacob Sproesser, Frank P. McAdams and George Weber were brimming over with fun and the jokes were handed to the audience in such rapid succession that they could not be grasped at once. 

 

The rhythm of the song “You Can’t Get Away From It” as sang by Jacob Sproesser appealed to everyone and the numbers given by Gordon Bacon “Poor Pauline” and George Weber’s “When I Hear a Gun” with accompanying dance were greatly enjoyed, but the hit or the evening was unquestionably the parody on “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary” composed and sung by Frank P. McAdams, the applause was fairly deafening.

 

Wacht am Rhine,” “The Star Spangled Banner” and “All Aboard for Dixie” as sung by the entire company proved a fitting climax to a very enjoyable evening.

 

The public is willing to welcome these minstrels as often as they are willing to appear, for they are rightly styled “Goom Chasers.”    WG

 

1916      CONCORDIA OPERA HOUSE SOLD

The Elks Lodge purchased the old Concordia Opera House on Jan. 5, 1916.  The building, which was constructed in 1888, is the current home of the Watertown Elks Lodge.  During the early 1900s, the Concordia building housed two theaters - the Empire and the Colonial - which featured both film and vaudeville acts.  The Masonic Temple was damaged by a fire on Feb. 18, 1916, and all of the property and records of the lodge were destroyed.  Immediate alterations were made to the Concordia building and the remodeling was completed when the lodge opened its facilities to its members on Dec. 31, 1916.  Over the next few decades various alterations and remodeling projects were made to the interior of the building.

 

  

 

  Image Portfolio, Masonic Temple and 1916 fire

 

07 06       Death of Emil Schultz

 

1917      WORLD AT WAR

In 1917, the World was at war.  The Order of Elks was only 49 years old.  GER Edward Rightor appointed a committee to study what the Order of Elks should do in this crisis.  The membership enthusiastically and unanimously approved a resolution appropriating one million dollars for the “War Relief Fund”.  This money was raised by the membership at the local Lodge level.

 

c.1917

FIRE TRUCK LEAVING CITY HALL, ACROSS FROM THE ELKS

  

 

1927

12 03       ELKS MEMORIAL SERVICE SATURDAY OPEN TO PUBLIC

The memory of 38 departed members of the Watertown Lodge of Elks will be honored at the annual memorial service of the order here Sunday afternoon at the Elks Club.  The exercises will be held in the main auditorium of the building and will start at 3 o'clock.  The officers of the lodge have extended an invitation to the public to attend lodge and members of their families, as well as those who are survivors of Elks who have passed on are especially invited to be present.

 

Milton C. Potter, Milwaukee superintendent of schools, will deliver the memorial address. 

 

The Watertown Elks chorus, under the direction of Edward L. Schempf, will sing and Frank Bramer, violinist, and Mrs. Bramer, pianist, will render two selections.  The ritual will be in charge of the officers of the lodge, headed by F. W. Koenig, exalted ruler.

 

Mr. Bramer will offer the "Andantino” by Lully-Brown, and “An Old Air" by Haesche as his part of the program.  The chorus will sing “Radiant Morn" by Woodward, and “There is No Death” by O'Hara.

 

The memory of 38 Elks will be recalled when the lodge secretary calls the roll.

 

The following are the men who have died as members of the lodge since it was organized in Watertown:  Jesse Stone, Carl Manz, Joseph Brandenburg, Frank Behlke, Edward C. May, Eugene Wiggenhorn, Herbert Kyle, Emil W. Schultz, W. P. Bingham, John T. Ryan, William F. Brandt, W. M. Davenport, Robert Dent, George P. Koenig, William H. Rohr, Fred Wittenwyler, W. D. Sproesser, Max Gaebler, J. H. Smith, William K. Voss, Karl A. Keck, L. H. Cordes, John Clifford, U. N. Barber, F. C. Werner, John S. Kings, A. Solliday, Gilbert Bentzin, A. F. Bauman, Webster F. Pease, James W. O'Brien, C. J. Habhegger, F. C. Hartwig, William C. Stone, John Thauer, B. T. Marks, Adam Mohr, E. C. Wolfram.

 

1937

In 1937, the grill room was changed to a bar and the ladies room and lodge room were redecorated.

 

1938

During 1938, the lodge purchased two pin setting machines for the bowling alleys and authorized the installation of a golf driving net in the upper ante-room.

1939

Authorization was approved in 1939 for the purchase of air conditioning units in the bar and card room.

 

1941

12 07       PEARL HARBOR

  

The Local Lodge supported the various programs of the Elks War Commission.  The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Lodge offered the entire Ladies room and the northwest ante-room (now the lodge room bar) to the local chapter of the Red Cross for their war program.  These rooms were used for over three years, until they moved to larger quarters.  Members were encouraged to donate blood.  The first gift box was mailed to Fred Kretchman.  A carton of cigarettes was sent to all members in service and Christmas remembrances were mailed to service personnel.  Bingos and other parties were held in behalf of veterans in hospitals.  Yes, the Elks were involved.   Glenn Friedl recollections  

 

1942

07 16       HIGH SCHOOL GIRL WINS HIGH SCHOLASTIC HONOR

Viola Boeder, Watertown, 18 year old high school graduate who has won an unceasing stream of honors since she came here to live with a guardian nine years ago, had one more attainment to her credit Thursday.  At Omaha, officers of the Elks National Foundation announced that they had awarded her the second grand prize of $500 in the foundation's "most valuable student" contest.

 

Miss Boeder is the ward of Miss Anita Krueger of Watertown.  She was senior class speaker at the June graduation exercises at Watertown High School and among graduates highest in academic standing. Earlier this year she won the state citizenship award of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

 

In the course of her high school career, Miss Boeder was president of the school's dramatic club and was active in forensics.  She participated in state speech contests of the American Legion and was a delegate to the Badger Girls State last year.  Her name was entered in the Elks contest by Edward Hinterberg, principal of the high school.  Miss Boeder will use her award to help finance her education at the University of Wisconsin, which she plans to enter this fall.  She expects to take a liberal arts course.   Milwaukee Journal, 07 16 1942

 

1950

The current lounge bar was established in 1950.

 

09 26          ELKS' ROUND UP AND CARNIVAL

Committees to have charge, which will be held here October 11, 12 and 13, have been fully organized.  At the regular meeting of the members held last evening, the arrangements were gone into and a complete plan has been promulgated . . . Committees are: Publicity, Gordon E. Bacon, chairman, John Clifford, C. W. Acker, G. H. Lehrkind and A. N. Thauer.  Advertising — John Salick, chairman, A. J. Bickner, Walter Schlueter, Elmer Lemmerhirt, Melvin Norbert.  Parades – George Richards, chairman, William Brandt, AI Price, W. F. Simon, Capt. A. F. Soliday.  Ticket committee — Herbert Schatz, chairman, Fred Ruesch, G. E. Bentzin, Eugene Meyer, E. J. Carroll and C. A. Schimmel.   WDT

 

1952

FIRST POST-PROM PARTY

First Watertown High School senior class to have a post-prom party at the Elks Lodge. 

 

1954

01 26       Post-prom party   WDT

 

1955

09 17       Attorney Charles A. Kading, former member of Congress, last night became the third living member of Watertown Lodge No. 666, B.P.O.E., to receive a life membership card in the lodge, having achieved 50 years of membership since his initiation a half century ago.  Attorney Wallace Thauer was named to make the presentation to Mr. Kading on behalf of the lodge.  Mr. Thauer presented him with the life membership card and the half century pin.  Mr. Thauer referred to the occasion as a pleasant moment in the life of the Elks Lodge and that of Mr. Kading, marking his 50th anniversary as an Elk.  He stated that during those 50 years Mr. Kading had attained a high reputation for professional ability as a lawyer and for fearless devotion to the cause of his clients and that he was endowed with eloquence, industry, perseverance, and resourcefulness in court and had won many hard fought law suits.

 

1957

01 23       Approximately 240 Elks from Watertown Lodge No. 666 and other lodges in the southern Wisconsin district turned out last night for the testimonial dinner honoring Dr. J. R. Casanova, this city, district deputy grand exalted ruler of the southern district.  The district is made up of 12 lodges, including No. 666 here.  It was one of the largest Elks gatherings held in Watertown in a number of years.  The upper ballroom, where the dinner was served, was filled to near capacity.

 

1958

03 19       Nine past exalted rulers of Elks Lodge No. 666 and a large number of “Old Timers” Elks honored.

 

1959

03 25       Officers elected    WDT

 

1960

03 27       U.S. Constitutional contest winners

Attorney Paul Hibbard, chairman of the Elks U.S. Constitutional contest committee, today announced the seven winners in the annual area contest held here recently and said the state contest will be held in Antigo on April 2.  The area contest, for high school seniors in the Watertown region, is sponsored each year by Watertown Lodge No. 666, B.P.O.E.  The winners as announced by Mr. Hibbard and their cash awards are: First — Glen Mundschau, Johnson Creek, $30. Second — Jane Uttech, Watertown, $20. Third — Karen R. Schmidt, Watertown, $15. Fourth — Jane Trachte, Johnson Creek, $10.  WDT

 

05 14       Dr. J. R. Casanova elected president of the WI Elks Association at Green Bay  WDT

 

11 22       William J. Fitzgerald Jr. new exalted ruler, named to succeed Glenn R. Ferry, acting city manager who had submitted his resignation.  Mr. Fitzgerald will serve as head of the lodge until next March when the next election is held and new officers are installed.  Earl Maas is the new esteemed leading knight of the lodge.   WDT

 

1961

05 16       Dr. J. R. Casanova, former exalted ruler of Watertown Lodge No. 666, B.P.O.E. next Sunday will become president of WI Elks Association at the annual convention of the association to be held at Oshkosh.  Dr. Casanova is now president-elect of the association, having been named at the 1960 state convention.   WDT

 

07 13          The Watertown Rotary Club is going to meet at the Legion Green Bowl starting in August.  Ever since the club was founded here the membership has met every Monday noon at the Elks Club, in the lower dining hall.    WDT

 

1962

01 21       Arthur A. Ullrich, 134 Corner Street, for many years a member of the Merchants National Bank staff, will be honored by Watertown Lodge on exalted rulers’ night which will be observed at the Elks Club on Feb. 14.  Mr. Ullrich has been a member of the Elks for 50 years, and during that time has held different offices in the lodge and has been active in the organization.   WDT

 

01 23       Dr. J. R. Casanova, president of the Wisconsin Elks Association, was the guest of honor of the Milwaukee Elks Lodge, No. 46, last night.  The meeting was preceded by a dinner and social hour attended by a large number of past exalted rulers of the club.  During the meeting, a large class was initiated in honor of the state president.  Several Watertown Elks accompanied Dr. Casanova to the meeting.  They were William Fitzgerald, exalted ruler; Christie Coogan, secretary Frank Kellerman, a trustee; and John D. Clifford.   WDT

 

02 10       Annual past exalted rulers night - A dinner was held in connection with the lodge meeting. The evening opened with a cocktail hour, followed by the dinner, after which the members attended the meeting.  Dr. J. R. Casanova, a past exalted ruler, a former district deputy and now president of the Wisconsin Elks Association, occupied the chair of the exalted ruler.  Other past exalted rulers who served in official positions last night, after drawing lots, were A. E. Bentzin, loyal knight; Attorney Charles O. Payant, lecturing knight; Joseph T. Lange, leading knight; Earl Maas, esquire; Wayne Simon, chaplain.

 

1963

03 23          ANNUAL POST-PROM PARTY

The annual drive to raise funds for the annual post-prom parties is now being organized and will get underway later in the week.  A committee of members of the Elks Club will meet to complete plans for the fund raising effort.  A large committee has been picked to make the contracts with merchants, industrial concerns, members of the professions and others who provide the necessary funds for the annual affair.  The post-prom party was introduced in Watertown in 1952, with the Elks lodge sponsoring the project.  A party has been held each year since, with the 12th annual party to take place in the upper hall of the Elks Club following the prom at the high school gym on Friday night, April 19.   WDT

 

1964

10 20          DINNER AND INITIATION NIGHT

Watertown Lodge No. 666, B.P.O.E. will hold a dinner and initiation night at the Elks Club next Wednesday, Oct. 28.  The dinner will precede the meeting. To be initiated are: Lloyd Radcliff, Waterloo, Michael Lees and Arthur Rehm Jr., Lake Mills, Warren Gay, James Clifford and Wesley Schwartz, Watertown.   WDT

 

12 24          CHRISTMAS FOOD BASKETS

Watertown Lodge No. 666, B.P.O.E. is again playing Santa Claus this Christmas by distributing baskets of food to needy and unfortunate families and individuals in Watertown.  Preparing the baskets at the Elks Club yesterday were numerous members of the lodge.  Lloyd Meyer, Harold E. Blaesius and Otis Anton prepare food baskets for distribution as part of the order’s charity work each year.   WDT

 

1965

01 14          YOUTH LEADERSHIP CONTEST

In the youth leadership contest conducted by the Watertown Lodge No. 666, B.P.O.E. Miss Orlaine Isaacson, a senior student at Oconomowoc High School, and Ralph Schmoldt of 307 North Monroe Street, Watertown, were judged the winners among contestants from high schools in the Watertown lodge area.  David Stiller of Lake Mills and Jeffrey Frost of Watertown received a second and third rating respectively among the boys submitting entries, while on the basis of their application brochures Miss Nancy Norman of Watertown and Miss Bonnie Kowski of Lake Mills were rated second and third respectively among the girls.   WDT

 

02 24          MOST VALUABLE STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP

In the Elks National Foundation “Most Valuable Student” scholarship contest conducted by the Watertown Elks Lodge No. 666, Miss Carol Schopan, a senior student at Jefferson High School, was rated first among the girls applying, and Ralph Schmoldt of Watertown High School was judged the winner among the boy contestants.   WDT

 

03 25          OFFICERS ELECTED

At last night’s meeting of Watertown Lodge No. 666, B. P. O. E., officers were elected for the coming year.  Elected were Pat Downing, exalted ruler, succeeding Theodore Freitag; Russell Twesme, esteemed leading knight, succeeding Pat Downing; James Clifford, esteemed loyal knight, succeeding Dean Priebusch; Tom Finnel, esteemed lecturing knight, succeeding Al Maas; Donovan Richards, tyler, succeeding Frank Semon; Theodore Freitag, trustee, succeeding William J. Fitzgerald; Dr. J.R. Casanova, alternate representative to the Grand Lodge, re-elected; and Christy P. Coogan, secretary, and Robert Cutter, treasurer, both re-elected.  WDT

 

04 01          U.S. CONSTITUTION CONTEST

Terry Turke leads the list of five Watertown winners and two winners from Johnson Creek in the recent United States Constitution contest conducted in this area by Watertown Lodge No. 666, B.P.O.E.   The local area winners were as follows: first, Terry Turke, Watertown; second, Ralph Schmoldt, Watertown; third, Robert Schneider, Watertown; fourth, Kenneth Abel, Watertown; fifth, Barbara Morgan, Johnson Creek; sixth, Nancy Kehl, Watertown; seventh, Scott Hinzmann, Johnson Creek.   WDT

 

1966

                  Safe cracked

 

1967

01 31          FUNDING DRIVE FOR ANNUAL POST-PROM PARTIES

Plans now are being formulated for a finance drive to provide needed funds for Watertown’s annual post-prom parties.  The annual post-prom parties started in 1952 but now have become an institution in Watertown.  The parties were established in order to provide a place to go following the close of the prom at the high school.  While the Elks Lodge sponsors the parties, handles all the arrangements and furnishes the manpower for each party, the money required is provided by business firms, professional people, industrial concerns and others.  Approximately $700 is required for each party.

 

1968

04 18       HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES HONORED

All-sports dinner.   WDT

 

1974

ELKS AUXILIARY STARTED

 

The Watertown Elks Auxiliary was started in 1974 by 40 women who were wives of Elks members.  These women felt they could assist the Elks members by making the lodge more inviting.  The women elected officers, adopted a constitution, set up committees and held meetings at the lodge once a month.

 

The main object was to raise funds to purchase items needed for the lodge.  The members held bake sales, rummage sales, card parties, raffles and spaghetti dinners.  The funds were used to purchase furniture, drapes, dishes and many other items along with decorations for the holidays.  Food for parties and receptions were many times prepared by the auxiliary members.  The women of the auxiliary are always happy to help provide the lodge with an inviting atmosphere.

 

A special project for the auxiliary is providing a camping experience for a handicapped youth at Camp Wawbeek in Wisconsin Dells.  This is provided with the help of Easter Seals and the Elks Lodge.  The Elks Lodge major project is helping handicapped people. Another important project at this time is providing funds for the “Stairway to Heroin” and “Playground to Pills” programs in Watertown.

 

The auxiliary meets at the lodge the first Wednesday of the month, not including January, June, July and August.  The meeting consists of a light supper, an interesting program and a short business meeting.  The auxiliary welcomes people who are family members of an Elk to join the auxiliary.   [2016 Elks pr]

 

1982

03 12       W. T. Connor, 307 South Ninth Street, has been named deputy representative for the State Elks on the VAVS Advisory Committee at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison.  The two-year appointment was made by Dr. Francis Kruse Jr., president of the Wisconsin Elks Association.  As a member of the VAVS Advisory Committee plans for the various events are made and carried out by the committee.  Connor has been a volunteer at the hospital for the past two years, deciding to “help out” after having back surgery at the hospital.  He and his wife, Mary, received a “Volunteering Together” Award in 1980 and he received an award for having served 100 hours in 1981 at the annual awards ceremony.   WDT

 

07 17       Dr. J. R. Casanova elected Grand Esteemed Lecturing Knight   WDT

 

1983

03 08       Dr. CASANOVA HONORED

Ralph Meiers, exalted rules of Watertown Elks Lodge No. 666, has announced a party honoring Dr. John R. Casanova will be held at Watertown Elks Lodge No. 666, 117 North First Street, on Saturday, March 19.  Two past grand exalted rulers of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks will be on hand to honor Dr. Casanova, grand esteemed lecturing knight.  They are H. Foster Sears from Macomb, IL., Lodge No. 1009, and Francis M. Smith from Sioux Falls, S.D., Lodge No. 262.  Also, many past state presidents and current Wisconsin Elks Association officers will attend the dinner.   WDT

 

1985

TAP BEER WAS INSTALLED IN 1985

 

02 26       Officers elected and new members   WDT

 

03 11       The Casanova Room, redecorated dining room; Dr. Casanova Champion Trophy

 

1986

CHRISTMAS DINNER PROGRAM ESTABLISHED

Established to bring meals and smiles to many Watertown residents who perhaps were unable to prepare or not able to be with family on Christmas Day.  A Watertown Elks member, who is also a veteran of our armed forces, would often miss and always wonder about his family while away serving our country during the holidays.  It was a heartache he would never forget!  With his inspiration and the dedication and volunteerism of other lodge members a program was developed to deliver Christmas meals to those who might be alone and unable to enjoy a Christmas meal.

 

[2016 note] This is our 30th year and we have served and delivered 11,000 meals!  We currently serve approximately 500 meals each year, both in deliveries and serving meals at the lodge. Our only reward is to see the gratitude and smiles on the recipient’s faces!

 

1987

09 24       PLAN TO SEE BUILDING

The Watertown Elks Lodge No. 666 plans to sell its building, located at 117 North First Street, according to Exalted Ruler James Meyer.  Meyer said the club wants to relocate to another building in Watertown that has just one floor.  The current lodge has three stories.  "The average age of our members is late 50s and early 60s," Meyer said.  "It's getting to the point where (climbing) the steps in that place is just too much."  In a survey taken a year ago, about 89 percent of the members supported moving to a new building.  However, nothing has been done about moving until recently.   WDT

 

1990

05 16       FENDT INSTALLED AS EXALTED RULER

Joseph Fendt, 414 Hancock St., has been installed as the Exalted Ruler of the Watertown Elks Lodge No. 666.  Past Exalted Ruler Wilbur Riedl installed Fendt and the following lodge officers, Leading Knight Alvin Schloesser; Loyal Knight Roman Tischler; Lecturing Knight Dennis Daley; Secretary Ralph Meiers; Treasurer Glenn Friedl; Tiler Lloyd Meyer; Trustee James Meyer; and Chaplain Donald Bobb.  WDT

 

1991

FRIEDL NAMED

WEA President Reinie Palm named Glenn Friedl, WEA Chairman for Restoration and Rededication of the Elks Veterans Memorial Building in Chicago, which also serves as the Elks National Headquarters. 

 

1993

LODGE OFFICE BUILT.   A lodge office was built in the lower level of the building in 1993.

 

1998

06 06       Members of the Watertown Elks Lodge are considering the sale of their landmark building at First and Madison streets to a local firm which would then remodel it for downtown office space.  The Lodge has received a purchase offer from American Express Financial Advisors, 111 S. Second St.  The offer was submitted through ERA Egan Realty which has been retained by the lodge to sell the building.  Under the plan, the building would be remodeled, an elevator installed, and professional office space made available for various businesses.  The financial advisers would be the first tenants in the building.   WDT

 

06 06 &

09 16       Sale of Elks bldg considered; decision not to purchase made by local financial business   WDT

 

1999

06 24       John “Jack” C. Lemke honorary marshal, Fourth of July Parade   WDT

 

2000

10 20       A longtime area business couple will be honored by the Watertown Elks Lodge for their donation to the lodge which will help the citizens of Watertown for many years to come.  Ray and Marie Dobbratz have donated all of their hospital and rehabilitation equipment to the lodge.  While operating Hafemeister Funeral Home and Furniture Store, the Dobbratzes provided this equipment free of charge to people in need.  That tradition will continue under the leadership of the Elks Lodge.  The lodge will honor the Dobbratzes for this donation to the lodge and other civic work they have done.  They will be the special guests of honor at the lodge’s Harvest Ball on Oct. 28.  The Harvest Ball will also be the kickoff for the lodge’s third phase of remodeling.   WDT

 

11 01       The Watertown Elks Lodge No. 666's plan to build an elevator addition on its building received approval by the Watertown Site Plan Review Committee.  The elevator, at North First and Madison streets, will be built on the east side of the Elks Lodge and will service all three floors of the building.  The Watertown Common Council in January approved a vacation of alley adjacent to the Elks Lodge, which allows for construction of the elevator.  The alley extends south from East Madison Street and west from North Second Street.  The elevator addition is part of a remodeling project to include the addition of a new stairwell from the third floor to the street, rest rooms on the third floor, expansion of the main lounge area on the second floor, remodeling of the large banquet hall and lodge meeting room on the third floor.   WDT

 

2001      CENTENNIAL YEAR: 1901-2001

Centennial Booklet [large-size pdf file]

 

03 18       100th ANNIVERSARY / THIRD FLOOR REMODELED

The Watertown Elks Lodge has undergone many changes over the years, but has remained an active community organization for the past 100 years.  Watertown Elks Lodge No. 666 is celebrating its 100th anniversary on Thursday.  Members are planning a birthday party on April 21 followed by a rededication of the membership charter on April 22.  Officers attending the birthday party will be dressed in outfits that would have been fitting back in 1901 when the local organization was founded.  The festivities will be held at the Watertown Elks Lodge which is currently undergoing a remodeling project.  Members will celebrate in the lodge room or ballroom on the third floor where the original ceiling has been restored and lighted with new chandeliers.   WDT

 

05 10       Jim Kraemer, past Exalted Ruler of Watertown Lodge #666, was recently named Exalted Ruler of the Year at the Wisconsin Elks Association Convention held in Fond du Lac.  Jerry Crouse, outgoing state president who presented the award, said Kraemer was given the honor for three reasons:  Having the largest membership gains in the state; the largest per capita donations given to the Wisconsin Benevolent Fund, the National Foundation and the Major Project; and the spirit of excitement that has been generated in Watertown by the lodge’s recent building renovation.  Kraemer said, “This honor really belongs to all members of the Watertown lodge who have given so much of their time. They are a hard working and dedicated bunch.”   WDT

 

2003

An addition was built on the east side of the structure in 2003 that includes rest rooms, a meeting room, an elevator and a stairwell.  Cost of about $200,000.

 

03 30       An installation ceremony was held for the 2003-04 officers of the Watertown Elks Lodge.  The new officers include Dick DeCono, exalted ruler; Dennis Daley, leading knight; Clyde Kennedy, loyal knight; John Pirkel, lecturing knight; Glen Friedl, secretary; Donald Krueger, treasurer; Dick Mueller, tiler; Ralph Meiers, esquire; Jim Kraemer, chaplain; John Wanke, inner guard; and Ron Mass, trustee. Al Schloesser is also a trustee and his term will end in 2004. Tom Godfroy’s term as trustee will expire in 2005.  WDT

 

2005

11 03       NEW RESPITE CENTER

Watertown Elks Lodge No. 666 with the Wisconsin Elks Association are in the process of constructing a new Respite Center at the Elks/Easter Seals Respite Camp located at Camp Wawbeek situated within 400 acres of land at Wisconsin Dells.  The new building will relieve the existing overcrowding and increase the number of campers attending the facility.  The new 24 room, 48 bed facility is to cost $816,500 and is planned to be completed and dedicated on Elks Day Saturday, June 24, 2006.  Those members who have not donated to the “Wall of Honor” program and would like to donate should do so as soon as possible.   WDT

 

2007

09 10       ANNUAL STATE CONVENTION HOSTED

Watertown Elks Lodge #666 will host the organization's annual state convention.  The annual event will be held in conjunction with a rededication ceremony celebrating the recent restoration project on the exterior of the Elks Lodge's building.  Alvin Schloesser was chairman of the restoration project; he was a member of the local Elks Lodge for about 35 years.  The restoration project that was completed over the past few months includes new paint on the exterior of the building, a new roof, a new sign and a new flag pole mount. The entire project cost the local organization about $75,000.   WDT

 

09 14          ELKS CELEBRATE BUILDING RESTORATION

Members of the Watertown Elks Lodge, past state presidents of the organization and other dignitaries gathered in front of the local headquarters on North First Street Thursday to celebrate the restoration of the building.

 

Watertown Elks Lodge #666 has just put the finishing touches on a restoration project that has been in the works for the past several years. 

According to Alvin Schloesser, local Elks member and chairman of the restoration committee, the exterior work that was completed over the past few months include new paint, a new roof and rain gutters, a new sign and a new flag pole.  The entire project cost the local organization about $75,000.

 

Schloesser said an addition was built on the east side of the structure in 2003 that includes rest rooms, a meeting room, an elevator and a stairwell.  That project cost about $200,000. 

 

“Many changes have been made over the years, but the historic appearance and stature remain today,” Schloesser said.

 

Watertown Elks Lodge #666 was established by 38 charter members on March 22, 1901. The lodge was granted its dispensation that same day and the charter was granted at the Grand Lodge session on July 25, 1901.

 

In 1902 the local Elks Lodge occupied quarters on the third floor of the Daub Building, 10 E. Main St., and moved in 1907 to the third floor of the Masonic Temple, which was inhabited by the Fischer's Department Store for many decades.

 

The Elks Lodge purchased the old Concordia Opera House on Jan. 5, 1916.  The building, which was constructed in 1888, is the current home of the Watertown Elks Lodge.  During the early 1900s, the Concordia building housed two theaters - the Empire and the Colonial - which featured both film and vaudeville acts.

 

The Masonic Temple was damaged by a fire on Feb. 18, 1916, and all of the property and records of the lodge were destroyed.  Immediate alterations were made to the Concordia building and the remodeling was completed when the lodge opened its facilities to its members on Dec. 31, 1916.

 

Over the next few decades various alterations and remodeling projects were made to the interior of the building.

 

In 1937, the grill room was changed to a bar and the ladies room and lodge room were redecorated. During 1938, the lodge purchased two pin setting machines for the bowling alleys and authorized the installation of a golf driving net in the upper ante-room.

 

Authorization was approved in 1939 for the purchase of air conditioning units in the bar and card room. The current lounge bar was established in 1950 and tap beer was installed in 1985.

 

A lodge office was built in the lower level of the building in 1993.

 

The Elks Lodge received an offer to purchase the building in May 1998, but the potential buyers canceled that offer later in the year.  At that time Elks members decided it was in the lodge's best interests to remodel the current structure.

 

Watertown Elks Lodge #666 is hosting the Wisconsin Elk Fall Conference which will run today through Sunday.     WDTimes article   

 

 

2010

06 13         

 

2011

05 11       The Watertown Elks Lodge recognized its old-time members with a dinner in their honor. Members were recognized as old-timers after 20 years of membership. Back row from left were, Bill Connor, 44 years; Louis Hady, 22 years; Tom Lauer, 43 years; Don Krueger, 57 years; Meredith Thomson, 20 years; and Mike Vandre, 31 years. Front row from left, Dick DeCono, 33 years; Glenn Friedl, 37 years; Bill Clark, 29 years; Romy Tischler, 40 years; Jim Seibold, 26 years; George Prahl, 60 years; and William Kwapil Jr., 44 years.

 

Those honored for 20 or more years of membership in the Watertown Elks were, back row from left, John Bruno, 25 years; Alvin Schloesser, 37 years; Jack Lemke, 47 years; Dennis Daley, 22 years; and Chuck Corbett, 34 years. Front row from left, Wayne Simon, 58 years; Joe Darcey, 60 years; Jerry Dricken, 35 years; and Duane Mandel, 45 years.

 

2012

03 17       WATERTOWN CARES DONATION

              

 

2013

05 02       ELKS AUXILIARY OFFICERS

The 2013-14 Watertown Elks Auxiliary officers are:  Anna Heller, president; Harriet Daley, vice president; Fran Vandre, secretary; Jackie Pfister, treasurer; Diane Fontaine, trustee; Marlene Meier, trustee; Linda Maas, trustee.

 

12 21       ELKS SERVE UP FRIENDSHIP, DINNER

No one should have to be alone on Christmas. This statement is the foundation of the Watertown Elks Lodge’s Free Christmas Dinner Program, according to Elks member Alvin Schloesser, who has been heading up volunteer activities for the meal since it began 27 years ago.  The Elks Lodge Christmas Dinner program, which is aimed at reaching the elderly, needy and lonely, impacts Watertown and its adjacent communities with nearly 400 complete Christmas meals each year.    WDTimes article

 

2015

04 02       ELKS LODGE OFFICERS FOR 2015-16

  

 

   1888 compared to 2015

 

12 22       CHRISTMAS DINNERS

  

 

2016

01 28       GLENN FRIEDL, 1928-2016

Glenn F. Friedl, age 88, passed away on January 28, 2016.

 

11 12       100th ANNIVERSARY IN CONCORDIA OPERA HOUSE

The Watertown Elks Lodge will be celebrating our 100th Anniversary in the famed Concordia Opera House.  We are also recognizing our 115th year as a chartered Elks Lodge.  Come join us on Nov. 12 at the historic building as we will be open to the public and help us celebrate our centennial home.  We hope to have many local and state dignitaries, as well as fellow Elk leaders and officers from throughout the state joining us for this epic event!

 

Open house and hors d’oeuvres will be between 3 and 5 p.m.

Dinner at 6 p.m.

Elks program at 7 p.m.

Live music following the program.

 

 

 

Cross Reference:

Glenn Friedl review article  

 

 

 

Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin

Index