James L. Crawford Elks Lodge #322, 220 Sunset Rd Ann Arbor, MI 48103



Ann Arbor's James L. Crawford Elks Lodge is part of the national Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, a fraternal organization founded in 1899 by black men denied entry into existing fraternal groups. The Ann Arbor lodge has been located on Sunset Road, overlooking North Main Street and the Argo Dam, for over half a century. The building was once the residence of the Tessmer family, owned by Paul G. Tessmer who built the U. of M. Boat House in 1898 on Argo Pond.

The Ann Arbor Lodge chapter was founded in 1922 and subsequently given the name "Pratt," honoring the death of an early member, Samuel Pratt. The chapter is now known as the James L. Crawford Elks Lodge honoring James L. Crawford who began serving as Exalted Ruler in 1954 and continued through the 1990s.

The peak size of the lodge membership occurred in the 1950s. By the 1990s (in common with many other fraternal organizations) the lodge's membership was shrinking and aging; and additionally the surrounding neighborhood (not yet renamed Water Hill) was transitioning away from its predominantly African-American character.  In 2006, the Elks attempted  to ensure their future by partnering with developers: a plan was brought forward to develop part of the site with a 37-unit residential condominium project, with proceeds from the development used to pay off the Elks' debts and finance construction of a new lodge on the site. The condos would range from 1,800 to 2,800 square feet in size, and sell for $450,000-$700,000. After winning Planning Commission approval on December 18, 2007, the project - "Avery House" - came under fire from neighbors, concerned that the project was out of scale for the area. The Ann Arbor City Council voted the project down unanimously on June 19, 2007.

Shortly after, the Elks members made the decision to allow guests from the community to book events in the lodge, including DJs, live music, barbecue and soul food. This brought in a new source of income which helped pay for some deferred maintenance to the facility. The lodge also allowed the City of Ann Arbor to purchase one edge of its property for $381,170  for use as a trail entrance to Bluffs Park.


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