Elks National Memorial
The Elks National Memorial located just to the west of the north end of Lincoln Park is a reminder of the sacrifice of the many Americans who fought and died in World War I. Planning for the memorial began two years after the war ended in 1918. The organization selected New York architect Egerton Swarthout's design. Hegeman-Harris Company, a New York construction firm, was selected as the builder. Construction began in 1923, and the building was dedicated on July 14, 1926, which the close proximity of that date to Independence Day.
The Memorial is in the Beaux Arts-style, which reflects a neoclassical style. The French movement was highly influential in the United States over a 40-year period beginning in 1880, so the Memorial can be viewed as the culmination of the movement in the United States.
Not surprisingly, the limestone came from Indiana, while the marble was sourced from Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, and Italy. The Memorial includes sculptures by Adolph A. Weinman, as well as the husband and wife team of Laura Garden Fraser and James Earle Fraser. Laura was James' student from 1910 to 1912 when Laura was studying at the Arts Students League of New York. She and James designed a number of U.S. coins. In fact, Laura won a 1931 design competition for the Quarter, but it was rejected by then Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. Both were elected to the National Academy of Arts.
The Memorial also contains colorful murals by Eugene Savage and Edwin Blashfield. Savage was influenced by Diego Rivera and Thomas Hart Benton, which is readily apparent from the murals. Not surprisingly, the murals illustrate the four virtues that guide the Elks: Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love, and Fidelity, which are not identical to but come close to several of Aristotle's virtues. There are two friezes, one of which portrays the Triumphs of War and the other the Triumphs of Peace.
The Rotunda bears a striking resemblance in style to the ceiling in the entrance hall to the Library of Congress, which is an earlier (1897) building in the Beaux Arts style.
Over the years, the Memorial has been rededicated to honor World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and all other veterans of United State War. The building was granted landmark status on October 1, 2003 by the City of Chicago.
The Memorial is open to the public from Noon until 4PM Monday through Saturday from April 15 until November 15.
All three photographs were made using a 32mm-64mm zoom lens. I plan to return to photograph the Memorial's exterior using a 24mm lens on my technical camera. I also will return with a 23mm lens for handheld shots of the interior space. 32mm is not wide enough for either the interior or exterior spaces.
The Elks National Memorial