B.G. Pollard Lodge
1107 W. 7th Street, Bloomington
During an era of segregation when African Americans were not welcome to gather in Bloomington’s downtown restaurants and businesses, the B.G. Pollard Lodge #1242 on West 7th Street acted as the heart of social life for the city’s traditionally Black neighborhood. Members of the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the World, a leading Black fraternal organization, constructed a basement for a new lodge building in 1950, planning to add an upper floor later when they could afford it. Known as “The Hole,” the subterranean space served as a popular Black nightclub, social hub, and haven from the 1960s to the ‘80s.
In 1981, the Elks raised over $100,000 to finally build the upper floor and renovate the basement. The lodge continued to serve as community anchor, its new upstairs offices housing the West Side Youth Development program, which taught job skills to hundreds of students. A variety of factors led to the lodge’s demise in the ‘90s, including a decline in lodge membership and club attendance, decreased finances, and disbanding of the youth program. The building is currently owned by a local couple who use it mainly for storage, and preservation advocates fear the site could become a target for new development. The Pollard Lodge represents an important chapter in Bloomington’s Black history, a rare survivor among the city’s African American landmarks that deserves broader attention.
Saving threatened buildings takes teamwork. You can be a part of that team. Reach out to local leaders. Let them know these buildings are important to you. And support state and local preservation groups.