Elks Lodge preparing to move outside city limits

January 21, 1994|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

The Annapolis Elks Lodge, a fixture on Rowe Boulevard since 1960, has a contract to purchase a piece of property outside the city limits and move there, possibly within the next year.

Vernon J. "Joe" Dorr, exalted ruler of the lodge, said yesterday that members have been looking to move for several years and that a Maryland Court of Appeals decision last week threatening their liquor license spurred them to act.

The 1,360 members of Lodge No. 622 voted Wednesday to sell their 6.9 acre property on Rowe Boulevard to the state for $3.6 million.

Mr. Dorr would not say where the lodge members planned to move until the purchase is complete, but he said the property is within the Annapolis ZIP code.

State officials, frustrated by lack of space for District Court in the state complex at Taylor Avenue and Rowe Boulevard, have expressed interest for several years in building a new, larger courthouse on the Elks Lodge site across the street.

The state's purchase is "good for the city because it makes sure that District Court stays in town," said Alderman Dean Johnson, a Ward 2 independent whose district includes the Elks Club. Mr. Johnson said the courthouse generates jobs and revenue for the city.

Mr. Dorr said the state made the Elks Club an offer in December.

Once the sale is complete, Mr. Dorr said, the Elks Club will have a year to move.

The Court of Appeals last week upheld a 1990 Annapolis ordinance that prohibits private clubs with city liquor licenses from excluding members "on the basis of race, sex, religion, physical handicap or national origin."

The Elks national bylaws prohibit women members. The Annapolis lodge, which has not had a black member in its 90-year history, petitioned the national organization two years ago to allow women, but the request was denied.

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