Many thanks to Harry F. McGarrigel III, P.S.P. and George E. Glomb for this history of Lodge #2428. It was gathered in interviews in December, 2008 by Bill and Kathy Joyce.
On June 22, 1977 Elwood Kirkman, representative of the Boardwalk National Bank, attended the dedication of Brigantine Elks Lodge #2428 on the site of the former Brigantine Boat Yard. Elwood looked at Harry and said,” Wow! Really, this is beautiful! You guys did all this?” Harry replied,” Yeah, with your help we did it all.” The culmination of two years of backbreaking work by the membership coupled with a $255,000 mortgage from Boardwalk National Bank made the dream of Brigantine Lodge #2428 a reality.
To trace the history of our lodge we have to go back to 1969 to a conversation between Jack Kelly, a Brigantine resident and member of the American Legion, and Earl Fisher, a member of the Atlantic City Elks Lodge. They decided that Brigantine needed an Elks Lodge and began the process of informing the State Association New Lodge Committee of their intentions. At that time Harry McGarrigel was a member of the Atlantic City Elks Lodge, but it wasn’t long before he was persuaded to help with organizing the new lodge. Then the recruiting of new members began in earnest. Meetings were initially held at Tom Battle’s Restaurant and Bar which was located at the State Marina, currently Trump Marina. By Palm Sunday, March 22, 1970 there were 65 members and the Lodge officers were installed at a ceremony held at the St. Phillip’s School. Harry McGarrigel was the first Exalted Ruler. The baby lodge received its charter on June 22, 1970.
Many sites were considered for a meeting place including a lot across from the VFW and the property across from the CVS where Carmine’s is now. Then the ground floor of the Brigantine Motor Inn (Hotel) was made available to the membership if they were willing to fix it up. The Storm of 1962 had wreaked havoc on the island and especially on the Hotel. A group of members got together and went to work. This served as the Brigantine Elks Lodge from 1970 until 1975. Talk of finding a permanent site for a lodge began in 1974.
Many organizations and individuals helped the baby lodge through its growing pains. Manahawkin, our “Mother” Lodge, donated the original stations (podiums). The Ladies of the Elks played an integral part in the growth of the Lodge; purchasing the jewels, holding various fund raisers and donating many “woman” hours to improve the facilities. The Presbyterian Church was very accommodating, allowing the Lodge to use their large hall for various functions.
In those days the membership participated in a bowling league at the Rose Bowl. The owner became a member and there was talk of the Elks buying the bowling alley. When it became known that the Grand Lodge frowned upon a Lodge owning a bowling alley, the idea was dropped.
Brother Gil Panter heard that the Brigantine Boat Yard and slips were for sale and proposed buying it. The price, he said, was $220,000. The members discussed this option and determined that a loan for $250,000 would be needed for the purchase and improvements. Harry tried to obtain funding from private sources to no avail. So he ended up talking to Elwood Kirkman at the Boardwalk National Bank. Elwood approved the loan without any problems. But there was a complication. The actual amount needed was $5,000 more. When Harry returned to Elwood for the additional $5,000, the money was made available with no questions. Settlement took place in April 1975.
The renovations of the building began on the West Shore Drive side where the service bar is now. This originally was the show room for the boat yard. The banquet hall was boat storage and the lounge was a separate room that was a machine shop. The bar from the Hotel was brought over and set up in the show room. The bathrooms in the banquet room were remodeled. These improvements provided a useable space consisting of a bar, a meeting area and bathrooms. After two more years of backbreaking work by volunteer members the Lodge was finally serviceable. On June 22, 1977 the Lodge was dedicated.
During these formative years the officers were involved in the Ritual Contest. In 1983, they won 1st place the first time they competed. The State recognized that they were the first “baby” lodge officers to win a district title. In 1981 the members brought in the largest class in Lodge history to date.
The next major project was an addition with a second story. This addition included the kitchen, bathrooms, bar game room and entry way on the first floor and meeting rooms and offices on the second floor.
For years Bingo was held in the banquet hall with doors that had to be put up and taken down between the bar (which is now the service bar) and the Bingo area each time. This separation was required by law and was extremely labor intensive, not to mention moving the tables and chairs around. Smoking during Bingo left the banquet hall reeking and there was much wear and tear on the carpets. Finally in the summer of 1986, a mortgage of $50,000 was obtained to construct the “Bingo Hall”.
The first Clambake took place in a lot across from the current Sandpiper Condos in 1973. This was the original Brigantine Elks #2428 summer event. As the price of seafood and food in general went up, the clambake evolved into many smaller functions that were easier to manage. Then in 1994 the Bayfest was born. This annual event continues to be our largest community fundraiser.
As our membership increased our Lodge continued to grow. New fundraisers were added and more renovations were made. Through the years we have contributed to various charities, including: Elks Camp Moore for handicapped children, The Elks National Foundation which awards scholarships, The Army of Hope which gives aid to families of veterans and many others. Our community service includes many events such as, The Stokes Breakfast, Walk Out on Drugs, and a Hoop Shoot. The Lodge also supplies beach wheel chairs to the city of Brigantine.
Many of our founding fathers are gone but their dedication to Elkdom leaves us a proud legacy to continue. As a Protective and Benevolent Organization, celebrating our 39th birthday on June 22, 2009 , we stand ready to help any and all in need, as proud members of a 141 year old Elks tradition.