BNHA Monumental Elks Lodge No. 3


Baltimore City Landmark

Interpretive Framework

Gaining Freedom for All: African American Heritage and the Struggle for Equality

Star Attractions

Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail

Resource Type

Points of Interest

1528 Madison Ave

Baltimore, Maryland 21217

Founded in 1900, the Monumental Elks Lodge No. 3 began with 30 members and charity as its cardinal principle. Between 1929 and 1932, the lodge reached a membership of over 2,100. The Elks provided a brotherhood and a platform for black empowerment. In many cases, lodges provided the only opportunity blacks had to “run for office,” manage organizations, and hone their organizational skills. In Old West Baltimore and elsewhere across the country, Elks joined forces with local churches to provide shelter, material support, money and leadership to the Civil Rights Movement locally and nationally. 

The Black Elks are known as the “Improved Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World (IBPOE of W).” With their sister organization, the Daughters of IBPOE of W, they have been active in the struggle for black equality in Baltimore since the 1920s. George McMechen, anointed the Grand Exalted Ruler of Elks of the World in 1919, moved to Baltimore in 1904, gained admittance to the Maryland Bar, and quickly formed a law partnership with W. Ashbie Hawkins. McMechen served as a trustee of Morgan College from 1921 to 1939, and was appointed to the Board of School Commissioners in 1944 where he served for six years as its first African American member.

The Elks purchased their lodge on Madison Avenue at McMechen Street (named in honor of George McMechen) and took occupancy on January 1, 1927. The lodge continues to serve the Baltimore community today.