Year Listed: 2003
Location: Tacoma, Pierce County
The 1916 Beaux Arts-style Elks Building, which looms over Commencement Bay at the northern edge of Tacoma, is a contributing primary building in the Old City Hall Historic District and was built was when fraternal organizations were integral to the community. The Elks building sat empty and deteriorating for decades and in 2003 it was nominated as a Most Endangered Place because the owner threatened demolition. The public’s response was swift and the City of Tacoma prevailed in court, which ended the immediate threat. But the building remained empty, continuing to deteriorate.
In October 2009, McMenamins purchased the building and after some delays, construction finally began in 2017. The reimagined building weaves together art, local history, and their signature interior style and includes 45 guest rooms, multiple bars and restaurants (including al fresco dining on Tacoma’s iconic Spanish Steps), a music and events venue, and much more. The project cost totaled $34.5 million and utilized both federal and state historic tax credits. The McMenamins Elks Temple opened to great fanfare on April 24, 2019, and after sixteen years on our list, we can finally call one of Tacoma’s architectural treasures officially saved!