Tacoma’s Elks Lodge, also known as the Elks Temple, is more than just a building to local residents, it’s a character. The grandiose building stands tall and proud over Historic Downtown Tacoma, even in its current semi-dilapidated state.
So, when architecture-loving Tacomans heard McMenamins was buying the beloved building, they were ecstatic. The thought of the old building being restored to its original glory was something locals could get behind. But the project has been slow-going, to say the least.
In fact, by the time the building is slated to open for business in early 2019, it will have been almost a decade since the McMenamin brothers purchased it. The sale of the Elks Lodge officially closed on October 30, 2009. Unfortunately, permitting issues and a lack of investors stalled the project multiple times. In 2017, McMenamins finally secured the plan, permits, and financial backing it needed to go forth with the project.
Not only will the building be rehabbed and restored, it will also showcase a variety of new features. The McMenamins website states, “The property will include 44 guestrooms with private baths; space for live music, events, weddings and meetings; a ballroom transformed into hotel rooms with terrace views of Puget Sound; three restaurants; a McMenamins brewery; and on-site gardens that will provide the restaurants with fresh, seasonal ingredients.”
Built between 1915 and 1916 by the Cornell Brothers, the building was designed by Seattle architect Edouard Frere Champney. Champney was the lead designer of Seattle’s 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, held on the University of Washington campus.
The Elks Lodge’s dramatic appearance, including the “Spanish Steps” that connect Commerce Street and South Broadway, is indicative of Champneys’ extravagant personal design style.
Renovations are now underway at 565 Broadway. But with a project of this magnitude, patience is key.
“We’re excited to be joining the Tacoma community,” Renee Rank Ignacio, McMenamins’ marketing director, told South Sound. “We don’t have any new information to share right now but as you’ve seen, construction is definitely in process and everyday things are changing as they start the rehab.”