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What was the original purpose of the building that is now the Soapbox Laundro Lounge?

Judy Royal

After some digging, here’s what we got from Ed Turberg, local architectural historian: The Elks Temple Building, 255 N. Front St., was built in 1902 for the Elks international fraternal organization. The architect was Joseph F. Leitner, who was the architect for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and designed many commercial and residential buildings in the city and state during that time.

The building, which has Renaissance, Queen Anne and Spanish motifs, originally had an arched entrance surmounted by a two-story bay window set within the existing arch. An elk’s head adorned the upper part of the bay window. The upper wall of the facade curved around a circular attic vent in the uppermost story. The Elks moved out of the building in 1945, relocating their headquarters to the Governor Dudley Mansion on South Front Street.

Modifications to the building that year and again in 1983, including the insertion of contemporary glass in the arch, altered its historic value to the extent that it is now considered a noncontributor, said George Edwards, executive director of Historic Wilmington Foundation. Several years ago an architect wanted to restore the original facade, but the city denied the request because the bay windows would project out over the sidewalk, Turberg said.

An important historical event that occurred in the Elks Temple, in July of 1906, was the formation In July 1906, the Elks Temple hosted the formation of the N.C. Association of Architects, which later became the N.C. Chapter of the American Instutute of Architects, Turberg added.

User-contributed question by:
Becca Jane

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