From the Daily News:
A bronze statue of an elk, now green due to decades of oxidation, stands guard in Elmhurst in front of a landmark commonly known as Elks Lodge No. 878.
For generations, the clubhouse hosted charitable and social gatherings until the Elks, whose dwindling membership no longer warranted such a vast space, sold it to a church a few years ago.
The Elks still meet next-door at a smaller facility. But many point to the group's exit from its Queens Blvd. base as a sign of a borough-wide downturn in fraternal organizations and service clubs.
Once signatures of many tight-knit communities across Queens, groups such as the Elks - known for camaraderie and charity work - are struggling to lure new blood and hang on to meeting spots.
Elks aren't alone. Other fraternal groups like the Masons are struggling, too, as are service clubs such as the Kiwanis, the Lions and the Rotary.
Locals fear that the weakening of such organizations diminishes civic pride, as does the demise of other middle-class institutions being profiled in the Vanishing Vintage Queens series.
From the Daily News:
Cutting through blocks of single-family homes in Forest Hills, Metropolitan Ave. embodies the main drags in small towns across the United States, thanks to a library, a post office and banks.
That atmosphere was once also exemplified by the Masonic lodge - until troubled finances forced the owners to sell in 2000 to a bank that then razed the lodge for a parking lot.
Gone is the meeting hall where Freemasons organized and hosted dances, dinners and charity events that signaled a civic pride many say is disappearing across Queens.
All that remains is the lodge's cornerstone, dated 1967, which was rescued by Jim Haddad, a Freemason who attended many functions there. He displays the memento in the yard of his Forest Hills Gardens home.
"The tombstones of fraternal organizations lie throughout Queens, which I suppose is appropriate given the number of graveyards we have," said Haddad, 46. "It really is a problem."