The members of Columbus/Grove City Elks Lodge No. 37 are displaying a little more pride in their lodge building these days.

That is because now it is their building.

The lodge held a ceremony Aug. 4 to celebrate paying off the $300,000 mortgage on its building at 2140 Sonora Drive in Grove City.

The event included the actual burning of the mortgage document.

"We own the building now -- lock, stock and barrel," said Randy Seymour, Lodge No. 37's grand-exalted ruler.

"It's a big moment for our lodge," he said.

The lodge paid off the mortgage in March, about 14 years ahead of schedule, Seymour said.

"It says a lot about the dedication and commitment of our membership that we've been able to accomplish this so quickly," he said.

The Sonora Drive building is actually the third headquarters for the lodge since it moved to Grove City, said Warren Grody, a past-exalted ruler who researched the history of Lodge No. 37 for the ceremony.

In 1978, the lodge moved from German Village into a building at the now-defunct Grovebrook Golf Course on Hoover Road. Seven years later, the lodge moved to a building on Broadway in the Grove City Town Center. It moved into the Sonora Drive facility in 2003, according to Grody's research.

The lodge was established in 1885 in downtown Columbus.

"Our first lodge was built in 1899 and was funded through a street fair the lodge organized and held in July of that year," Grody said.

William Jennings Bryan attended and President William McKinley was slated to attend, but he had to postpone his visit due to business in Washington, D.C., Grody said.

The street fair raised $20,000, which is the equivalent of about $563,000 today, Grody said.

"Fifteen thousand dollars was used to build the first lodge," he said. "The remaining $5,000 was donated to charities, because that is what the Elks do."

"I think what's really nice is that with our mortgage paid off, we're going to have more money available to contribute to the local organization and causes we support," Seymour said.

The Ohio Elks' major charitable focus is cerebral palsy, he said.

Lodge No. 37 also supports causes that reach South-Western City School District students and other Grove City area charitable and service organizations.

Last year, the lodge donated more than $23,000 to local causes, Seymour said.

The Elks' mission is summed up by the organization's motto -- Elks Care Elks Share, he said.

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