The current Ballard Elks building sits on Point Shilshole, a point of land jutting out from Seaview Avenue just north of Ray’s Boathouse. Below is a brief history of the Elks Lodge and its immediate surroundings.
Shilshole and Salmon Bays were once home to the Sheel-shol-ashbsh people, now called ‘Shilshole’. The tribe had several large longhouses deep inside Shilshole Bay about where the Lock Spot Cafe is now located. The tribe went into decline in the late 19th century as settlers began to populate the area.
Shilshole is said to have meant ‘threading a needle’ due to the narrow entry way into Salmon Bay. At low tides, it was possible to wade across the mouth.
Siwash Charlie also known at Salmon Bay Charlie, the last Shilshole chief had his iconic Salish style home on the west side of Salmon Bay. The point where his house was located ended up getting dredged to widen the channel for the Ballard Locks which opened in 1917.
1890’s Salmon Bay looking north from Magnolia towards Point Shilshole where the Elks building now is, (below). Salmon Bay Charlie’s house was on the point middle left. Note the narrow channel opening. Our Elks building would be just around the point on the middle right. Read more about early Salmon Bay history here.
As Ballard become more developed, beach houses began to develop on Ballard Beach, which is the former beach between where Ray’s Boathouse is now and Golden Gardens.
The location below is where the Elks building is now on Seaview Ave NW. Tregoning Boat Company also had their facility adjacent and are responsible for the iconic pilings on the Elk ‘Secret Beach.’
Black Ball had a ferry from Ballard to Port Ludlow and Suquamish in the 1920-30’s. The dock was on the south side of where Ray’s Boathouse is now.
Article below from the ‘Washington Elk’, 1978
During the summer of 1902, when Ballard was a separate community, A.E. Miller, Conrad Knosher and Zeno Sauve, then members of Elks Lodges of the Midwest, conceived the idea that Ballard should have an Elks lodge. Th lodge began sessions in January, 1903, in Sanborn Hall. Dry-good boxes were used for the altar and at the officers stations. The lodge was charted as Ballard Elks #827 in July, 1903.
In the fall of 1903, the Lodge moved into the Matthews Building on a lease basis. The Lodge continued to grow and the building was purchased, remodeled and the third floor added. The dedication of the remodeled building was in October, 1920 with the entrance on Ballard Avenue.
In 1963, we purchased the first piece of waterfront property on Shilshole Bay and in 1965 the rest of the property facing Seaview Avenue NW. On this property, there was an old ship known as the ‘reindeer ship’ which was grounded as a breakwater.
There is a tremendous amount of history about this old ship. Here is some of the story. She was a born the Annette Ralph, launched July 4, 1918, in Fairhaven, Calif, as one of the three sister ships for Trans Pacific trade. She was a steam ship 245 feet long and was used through World War 1. In 1930, purchased by the Loman Brothers, she was used for transportating a quarter of a million reindeer from the Seward Peninsula. The Alaska Steamship Company purchased her in March 1936, and renamed her the USS Bering and put her into general service. World War 2 gave the old ship her last brief sea going career. In 1943 she was put ashore as a breakwater. The ship was burned and the property cleared in 1964.
Since that time we have had many setbacks in our plans for a new Home. Finally construction was started in June of this year. Completion is scheduled for dedication by Grand Exalted Ruler Homer Huhn when he visits our state in June 1978. This will be our 75th Anniversary and you will hear more about that later.
Dedicated Nov 19 1978
Flectcher, Cox, P.E.R
Scotty McPherson, P.E.R
Find more history here: