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HomeFeaturesHappy Anniversary! Susanville Elks Lodge Turns 100 Years Old Today!

Happy Anniversary! Susanville Elks Lodge Turns 100 Years Old Today!

The Susanville Elks Lodge at the top of Main Street, 1955. An Eastman’s Studio photograph

In celebration of the Susanville Elks Lodge’s 100th anniversary we are re-running this story from the Lassen Historical Society.

By Susan Couso

The beautiful Victorian-style building at Susanville’s west end has had a very interesting life. The land was originally owned by Isaac Roop, and went through several owners until Mrs. Sarah Hosselkus sold it to Dr. Jewitt Leonard for $450.

Leonard was a traveling dentist, whose practice took him over most of northeastern California. But he decided to designate Susanville as his home town, and had an office on the corner of Gay and Cottage Streets.

The dentist was, supposedly, trained as an architect, and his dream of this uniquely-shaped building caused many difficulties for the builder.

Charles Odette was a lumberman and sawmill owner, and Leonard contracted with him to build the house. Work began in 1883. Near the end of 1884, the Leonard family moved into the unfinished structure.

Life was not easy for the rural dentist. Many patients wanted to pay in produce or livestock, and Dr. Leonard had a difficult time ‘making ends meet’. In 1890, he owed money to several creditors. He sold his property to William Greehn, local merchant, for $2,800, and moved to Reno.

The newly finished Leonard residence and its view down Main Street in 1885.

Greehn never lived in the home, but rented it to attorney William N. Goodwin and family. By 1902, William O. Pierce, a musician, was renting the house for $12 per month.

In 1908, Greehn finally sold the property to Joel Henry Swain, a local saloon owner. The Swain family lived in the home for a number of years, doing a lot of much-needed work to the house and grounds. Joel Henry Swain had the rock retaining wall built along the front of the property before his death in 1918.

After Swain’s death, his widow, Anne, had a smaller home built on the southern portion of the lot and moved there. She rented the upper floors of the former Leonard house to workers who came to the area to build the Lassen Lumber & Box mill.

A little before 1920, a group of 81 men decided to try to form an Elk’s Club for the area. In 1923, they formed the Antler’s Investment Company and purchased the property from Anne Swain in 1922 to be used as a meeting place. Swain continued possession of her smaller home.

In May of 1924, the B.P.O.E #1487, Elks, was formed, and in 1931, the property was deeded to them. The Elks did extensive remodeling to the building to make it into a meeting hall.

Thus began a long tradition in Susanville. The Elk’s Hall, has been a meeting place for club activities, as well as the site for numerous weddings, proms, dances and hundreds other events. The stately building has become a symbol for our community.

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff.com Publisher/Editor
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