By David Wessel, Principal
A little-known fact: San Francisco Lodge No.3 is the longest continuous running lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE). The BPOE was founded in New York City in 1868, and the San Francisco Lodge No. 3 came into being five years later. Since 1925, the city’s Elks have been meeting at 450 Post Street, a beautiful Spanish Gothic building in San Francisco’s Union Square. Commissioned by the Elks Lodge and designed by architects F.H. Meyer–who also worked on City Hall–and A.R. Johnson, the terra cotta–clad building spans 15 stories and appeared in early issues of Architectural Digest and Architect and Engineer magazine.
Another little-known fact: there was originally an elaborate terra cotta balcony balustrade on the exterior at the third floor, right off the grand ballroom. By the 1960s, the deteriorated balustrade was deemed a falling hazard and replaced with a plain steel railing. Extending about five feet from the building, the balcony was still a great place for members to socialize and have a smoke. The balcony didn’t have the same visual impact, but finding the funds to restore it to its original state was a challenge.