Belleville Elks Lodge 481 building is being auctioned
A Belleville institution will go on the auction block Wednesday when Adam’s Auctions tries to sell the Belleville Elks Lodge #481 building.
But even though they are getting rid of their large building, it’s not the end of the Belleville lodge, said Robin Lemay, exalted ruler of the group.
The lodge will still meet in a location they haven’t decided on yet and will continue its work helping children, veterans and the needy as well as running their recreational facilities in the summer.
“We’re just selling the building. We’re trying to downsize,” she said.
A drop in the number of members willing to work at the functions held in the hall has made it hard to keep it going, Lemay said.
The building, at 1481 S. Illinois St., has more than 21,000 square feet with the ability to host large groups or rooms for smaller groups. It has a bar and lounge and commercial kitchen. The sale includes 4.2 acres of land with the building and parking space.
This auction includes only the building and real estate. “We’ll come back at later date and auction off the contents,” she said.
The Belleville lodge was founded by civic leaders including Fred J. Kern, former mayor and owner of the Belleville News-Democrat, in 1979 and renovated in 1990.
“When this building was built, everyone was involved with an organization,” Lemay said. “Now with two-income families and kids involved in so many activities there isn’t the time. Everybody is suffering.”
In fact, several area fraternal organizations have sold their buildings in recent years as their membership ages and they can’t attract younger people.
“The times when the old man would go out for a drink at the lodge at night while the woman stayed home to take care of the house are gone” Lemay said.
The auction will be conducted by Adam’s Auctions and is not absolute. The local lodge will need to take any offer to higher Elks Lodge authorities for approval, Lemay said.
The building has actually been for sale unofficially for a number of years, she said.
It is zoned C-2, heavy commercial with 435 feet of frontage on Illinois 159, also known as South Illinois Street. County taxes are around $3,800.
An open house will be held at the building from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday. The auction will be at 6 p.m., Wednesday at the St. Clair County Event Center, 1550 E. State Route 15.
The Elks like to think that the sale just means they will be moving on to another building as the group has done in the past.
“We’re coming up on our 120th anniversary and we hope to be here another 120, just not in this building,” Lemay said.