One of my all time favorite theaters isn’t located in Times Square, or even Manhattan. To find it, you have to go waaaaay down Queens Boulevard to the heart of Elmhurst, where you’ll come across the old Elks lodge #878.
Built in 1924, this Elks lodge was once one of the largest on the East Coast, with, according to Forgotten NY, “60 rooms, bowling alleys, billiards, a ladies’ lounge, and a 50 foot bar, built in the teeth of Prohibition.”
Much has disappeared over the years, but thankfully, the lodge’s crown jewel has managed to survive: the multi-level Aztec meeting hall/theater.
Like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, the room is absolutely dripping in beautiful Aztec-themed molding:
Above the stage, a pair of warriors…
…centered around a clock (note the face covered by the speakers):
The intricacy of the molding just blows me away – look at how many different patterns can be found in just the row of small squares in the picture below, which are nearly impossible to distinguish from the ground:
Before we continue the tour, you might be wondering why such beautiful design work has been covered by a such a boring paint color that does nothing to accentuate it. As it happens, THIS is how the room used to look:
A few years ago, the Elks sold the building to a Christian church and sadly, a new paint job was adopted to tone down the theme (according to Forgotten NY, some of the church’s congregants apparently felt the imagery was too Satanic). A pair of warriors on the sides of the stage are today covered in banners: