Hanover Lodge has had a long and outstanding history or achievements. It was at the turn of the century that interest in forming an Elks Club in Hanover developed among a small group of members of the Arcadian Club, Hanover’s oldest social organization. That club had facilities but only served food and refreshments on special occasions.
For that reason, interest in starting an Elks Club here took on increased impetus until finally a decision was reached to have Henry S. Ehrhart, Robert L. Ehrhart, George N. Gitt and J. Clair Slagle, all of whom were members of Chambersburg Lodge No. 600, sponsor an Elks Club in Hanover.
An application was presented to the Grand Lodge and, on February 4, 1902, a dispensation was granted by Grand Exalted Ruler C. E. Pickett providing for Hanover Lodge No. 763. The institution of the Lodge followed on May 7, 1902 at a session held in the Knights of Pythias Hall on Baltimore Street across from the home just vacated
The institution was conducted by Brother Thomas Scott, District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler, who was assisted by members of York Lodge, No. 213.
Charter members of the Lodge, all prominent and well known citizens were Dr. Fayette H. Beard, George H. Bonte, Thomas M. Brown, Attorney F. Chrostwaite, Charles J. Delone, Jacob P. Delone, James Findlayk, Jr., Julius W. Fischer, J. Gordon Fischer, Harry N. Gitt, George D. Hopkins, Aaron Hostetter, George T. Kerr, Augustus H. Melhorn,, Clinton N. Myers, Harry C. Naill, David McG. Newcomer, Thomas J. O’Neill, Joseph B. Renaut, Frank R. Rodgers, Joseph H. Schmuck, W. Edward Shaffer, John S. Sheely, George H. Shirk, Charles F. Smith, Sharon E. Smith, Charles W. Steffy, Maurice N. Trone, Frederick W. Weber, and Robert O. Wirt.
First officers were elected and appointed at the institution and were installed by Past Grand Exalted Ruler Meade D. Detweiler. These officers were: Charles J. Delone, Exalted Ruler, Thomas J. O’Neill, Esteemed Leading Knight; George D. Hopkins, Esteemed Lecturing Knight; Harry C. Naill, Secretary; Julius W. Fischer, Treasurer; Charles W. Steffy, Tiler; George T. Kerr, Trustee - One Year; Augustus H. Melhorn, Trustee - Two Years; George H. Shirk, Trustee - Three Years; John A. Sheely, Esquire; Frank R. Rodgers, Inner Guard; W. Edward Shaffer, Chaplain; Sharon E. Smith, Organist.
From April 1902 to April 1903 the Lodge occupied the rooms of the G.A.R. above the First National Bank.
The project of securing a permanent home was considered on April 23, 1902, when it was decided to take a six months’ option on the Welsh property, 19 Baltimore Street, said option to be exercised as soon as the membership had grown to seventy-five. The required number of members was reached on August 13, 1902, and the trustees thereupon moved promptly to purchase the Welsh property for $14,000 and executing a mortgage for the full amount. Remodeling & furnishing began immediately.
The first session was held in that home on March 15, 1903 and the formal dedication took place on April 28 following. This home down through the years was the second of numerous notable and largely attended social activities. Including many formal and semi-formal events. Memories of those enjoyable occasions still linger in the minds of quite a few of the Brothers, especially the older ones in point of membership.
The 50th anniversary of the institution of the Lodge was marked with appropriate festivities from March 4 to 7, 1952. The Lodge was honored by a visit from Grand Exalted Ruler Howard W. Davis, Williamsport, Pa., who delivered an address and otherwise participated in the evening’s activities. Other Grand Lodge officers as well as officers of the State Association also took part in the celebration.
The Golden Jubilee Committee, which arranged the observance, was headed by Brother Clyde H. Zartman, Sr., who at the time was District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler. Other members of the committee were: Brothers William A. Frock, Harold O. Price, Richard B. Alleman, C. Homer Meredith, Charles E. Wentz, William J. Klunk, W. Cyril Smith and Raymond A. Harding.
It had been felt for some time that the old home had served its purpose, that it was outmoded and that if Hanover Lodge was to grow and prosper, the membership sooner or later would have to consider securing a more modern structure with better facilities to provide for its activities and on a site that included a sizable parking lot. This need became more and more evident each succeeding year with the result that shortly after Brother Robert J. Meredith had taken office as exalted ruler in 1961, he called a special meeting of the lodge to discuss and act upon the matter.
After considerable debate at a meeting, it was decided to take the initial steps towards building a new home and a planning committee was appointed. This committee was consisted of Brothers Robert J. Rouzer, chairman; Dr. Marl L. Redding, Robert L. Alwood, Richard H. Dell and Attorney Jesse Crabbs, the latter to serve as legal advisor.
The lot owned by the Lodge on the west side of Baltimore Street, near Middle Street, was at first considered and Architect Harold E. Little, a member of the Lodge was employed to draw up plans. This was done but objections developed against building on the Baltimore Street plot due to its limited size and lack of sufficient parking facilities. The Lodge subsequently rejected the submitted plans and bids and the committee was instructed to seek a more appropriate site. Six locations were considered, the Forney Avenue plot finally being decided upon. It was purchased for $10,000 during the succeeding administration of Brother Robert J. Alwood as exalted ruler.
Architect Little then was instructed to draw plans and specifications for a building to be erected on this newly acquired site. These plans, after careful consideration, finally were adopted. Contracts then were approved, and ground was broken at exercises held on Sunday afternoon, May 5, 1963, during the early part of the regime of Brother George L. Rice, who had succeeded to the office of Exalted Ruler.
The construction and occupancy of our present structure marks another milestone in the history of Hanover Lodge No. 763. The one-story building of brick and concrete block construction was erected at a cost of approximately $130,000.
The Lodge moved from its former home at 19 Baltimore Street, which it occupied for more than 60 years, to its new quarters on Forney Avenue on Saturday, January 25, 1964.
Further growth of our property came about when the membership decided to buy the plot of ground to the north of and adjacent to our present location. This lot, with an approximate 160’ frontage on Forney Avenue and a 400 depth was purchased in January of 1965 at a cost of $6,000 and earmarked for future expansion of our facilities.
Much work, such as landscaping and decoration on the interior of the home still remained to be done. The landscaping had been accomplished by monies donated from the Abba-Dabba-Do Fund. This fund was founded by donations from Brothers and their wives who stopped by the Lodge on Sunday mornings.
Brother Ken Reber, with the help of the Ladies Auxiliary, decorated the grill room and remodeled the bar during 1966, when called upon to do so by Exalted Ruler Richard Walker Brother Reber also designed the cold air divider with planter that now stand in the grill room.
Exalted Ruler Robert J. Cashman named Brother Holman Leese, chairman; Brother Grover Hansford, co-chairman, and Brother Bob Krise, Ed Sneeringer and Jim Keagy as a committee to decorate the ballroom. This project, begun in 1967, was completed in 1969.
Andrea Miller, daughter of Brother Robert J. Miller, painted the murals that appeared in the ballroom. Old landmarks of the Hanover area are among those scenes chosen by Brother Leese. They are the City Hotel that stands on the corner of the square and Frederick Street, the Hanover-McSherrystown trolley depicted at the Forest Park area on Baltimore Street; the Camel Back Bridge that still stands near McSherrystown Fish and Game Association in Hanover R.D. 1, and the bandshell and water fountain that once stood in Wirt Park on High Street.
New kitchen fixtures were bought, and the kitchen was remodeled to $30,000 during the tenure of Exalted Ruler Leonard C. Hicks in 1970. This was done to better accommodate our growing membership.
It had been the feeling of the Brothers for sometime that a statue of the emblem of our great Order be placed in the front yard of our home, Exalted Ruler Reuel Zinn, therefore, named P.E.R. Robert J. Cashman, chairman and P.E.R. William J. Overbaugh, co-chairman of a committee to study this project. A 6-foot Elk made of fiberglass with a natural 12 point rack was located by Brother Cashman for the sum of $375. The Elk was purchased with donations received from the Brothers and widows of our departed Brothers. The statue was placed on a cement and brick base by the flag pole along the south entrance to our Lodge. Services were held on May 30, 1969 at which time the Elk was dedicated to the memory of our departed Brothers. Past State President A. Lewis Heisy was the principal speaker at this ceremony with remarks given by Past State President William Kuhn. Appropriate bronze plaques have been added to the base of this handsome statue.
The 75th anniversary of Hanover Lodge was held from February 24th through February 27th, 1977. Grand Exalted Ruler George B. Klein attended the Past Exalted Rulers night on the 24th. He was also guest of honor and gave an address at our formal Anniversary Dinner-Dance on the 25th. Other honored guests for this occasion were Grand Trustee A. Lewis Heisey, State President Earl J. Case and The Honorable E. Gene Fournace, Past Grand Exalted Ruler. An Anniversary Dance was held for Lodge members and guests Saturday evening the 26th, and an Open House to end the festivities on Sunday the 27th.
The committee arranging the celebration consisted of Lloyd D. Yost, Jr., DDGER, Chairman; William J. Overbaugh, PER, Co-chairman; George W. Swartz, PDDGER; Robert J. Meredith, PER; Clair L. George, PER; Harry W. Niehoff, Exalted Ruler; Paul M. Lehigh, Leading Knight, and Robert L. Baadte, Loyal Knight.
The Ladies Entertainment Committee was comprised of Norma Yost, Chairman; Dorothy Swartz, Hazel Lehigh, Peggy Baadte, Rose Gerrick, Janice Tananis, Pat Lehigh, Donna Lehman, Lena Cromer, Teenie Swartz and Jean George.