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Article by Ted Scott, lodge historian

The Houk Building

With the institution of the Elks Lodge 1538 on June 25, 1927 behind them and with a membership exceeding 100, the officers and trustees (L. N. Crawford, Exalted Ruler) needed a permanent lodge site for Lodge 1538. The Houk building in the 200 block of North Broadway was selected as an appropriate site.

The ground floor of the Houk building was occupied by W. B. Johnson Chevrolet. In early July, the second floor was leased from the Santa Maria Eagles with East Chapel Street as the entrance.

Mr. William Funk was initiated in 1933, Thomas P. Weldon Exalted Ruler. In the mid thirties the Lodge started looking for a new site and had actually purchased one on South Broadway. It was sold in March 1938 and the profit was applied to the Main and Vine property.

The Lodge was relocated to the Vine Street address in December 1939.

102 South Vine Street

Ground was broken for the Vine Street lodge building (in what is now the north Sears parking lot) in early September with building complete and dedicated on December 9, 1939. R. A. Polley was the Exalted Ruler at the time of the dedication ceremony.

                                                                      Same view today (Sears parking lot)

Designed jointly by L. N. Crawford and Rudolph Polley, the Vine Street Lodge was described. as a "Rambling Monterey" type and represented an investment of $30,000.

The location for the Lodge was acquired several months (some have said up to a year) earlier than the initial, building and the location was listed as 100' E/W X 144' N/S. Several years later, two additional lots were secured on the east side and an alley ran east to west on the south side.

The Vine Street Lodge by all accounts was a very popular facility and many Santa Maria residents still have found memories of the site. However, with success comes growth, and it was inevitable that a new larger site for the Lodge would become necessary.

Expansion at the Vine Street location was not feasible, however, and efforts were started to locate a new larger location. Our present North Bradley site was purchased in 1960. While some felt it was "too far out of town," progress has changed the area, and now adjacent to Highway 101 the city surrounds it.

As for the Vine Street Lodge, Merrell Williams purchased the property and converted it to Merrell's Steak House.

Merrell's Steak House was eventual purchased and leveled as part of the Town Center Mall project.


The location of the Vine Street Lodge became a dedicated site in 2002 as shown above in the north Sears parking lot.

The last Vine Street event was held October 5 and 6, 1968 and was declared "Moving Day." Jack Gutshall was exalted rule then.

1309 North Bradley Road

Our current Lodge was opened in regular forum October 10th in the temporary building we now call the Sauna Room and gym. The first initiation was November 7th 1968.

This building served as the Lodge (the sign is still there) until May 1969 when the move into the new building was made the weekend of the 16th and 17th, under exalted ruler. Burton J. Twitchell.

The first function was the Inaugural Ball on the evening of May 17th, exalted ruler Burton J. Twitchell leading the officers and the official greeting committee for the first dinner-dance in our new home.

Each location produced many positive benefits for the community. We should all be proud and proclaim our feelings. To a struggling group of 100, the battle to secure a lodge site and develop the means to purchase the Vine Street site was an enormous undertaking, but they did it. The same type of effort prevailed when the lodge purchased the N. Bradley site, which was paid off within a few years in time to build the beautiful Lodge we now enjoy.

May we never forget those who went ahead  God bless them for their vision.

The Lodge Room addition was completed and the first meeting was held on November 13, 1980, Veteran's Night.