A community fixture for much of Astoria's history, the downtown Elks Lodge will be on display as members hold a champagne brunch Sunday to drum up support for renovating the building, which was built in the early 1920s.
Part of the brunch will include a tour of the building, which houses the state's second oldest Order of Elks formed in 1890.
Barbara Begleries is helping to lead the fund-raising effort. She said she hopes people who come to the free brunch and take the tour will be so impressed by the building that they'll be eager to donate to restoration efforts.
Elks members are focusing on the meeting room on the third floor that has been used by the public for wedding parities, graduations, civic meetings and other events. Begleries said the room hasn't had any work done on it since 1955, and is sore need of repairs, but still impresses people.
"I had tourists from a cruise ship from L.A. in here, and they were 'oohing and ahhing,'" she said.
The champagne brunch will begin at noon and the tour will follow. An afternoon dance will be held after the tour on the lodge's club floor. The lodge is at the corner of 11th Street and Exchange Street.
According to a history of the building written by order member Liz Tureman, the lodge burnt down shortly after it was built in 1922. It was quickly rebuilt in the same style on the same site.
The third-floor meeting room, which is 70 by 55 feet and has a ceiling 23 feet tall, has remained relatively unchanged since the lodge was built.
The Elks Lodge in Astoria is the subject of a campaign to preserve the building.Begleries said just like other fraternal organizations the Elks have lost membership over the years, which is why the organization doesn't have enough funds to do some of the repairs for the building. Some of those repairs include plaster work and repairing water damage.
Astoria Development Director Todd Scott said he toured the building recently at the request of the Elks. He said some were concerned the building was too far gone for renovation,
"For the most part it's in pretty good shape," Scott said. "It certainly needs some maintenance, but that's true of any old building."
He said he also believes the some parts of the building are being under-utilized.
"A lot of people are interested in certainly utilizing the large spaces because at the moment there aren't a lot of large spaces to hold an event in Astoria." he said. "It's a fantastic building and (the Elks) are not using a lot of it."
Begleries said the building could be opened up to more public use, such as the bowling alley in the basement. But, she said, at this time the order would prefer to focus its energy on the meeting room.