Members of the Norwood Elks lodge and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America are battling in court over ownership of the local lodge building.
Local members filed suit in state court last month to keep the national organization from forcing a change in their charter that could let the national organization take control of the Winslow Avenue building that has housed the local Elks since 1923. The national organization had the suit transferred to US District Court in Boston this week.
Local Elks accuse national Elks of trying to bully them into giving up real estate worth well more than $4 million by threatening to revoke their membership in the BPOE. They want a judge to prevent the national organization from changing the locks or otherwise trying to keep the locals out.
In their suit, the local Elks say the Elks don't technically own the building, anyway: Ownership is in the hands of the Elks Building Corporation of Norwood, a separate non-profit entity that purchased the land for the lodge in 1923 and which has long charged the local BPOE chapter rent to use the building - currently $5,145 a month.
Local Elks say that the national Elks want to merge their lodge with another local lodge, then sell off the Norwood building and keep the profits for itself.
In the complaint, they add that on Jan. 21, members of both the local lodge and the building corporation met and voted to refuse to amend the local Elks charter to let the national organization take over the building if it deems that necessary.
- Complete complaint (6M PDF)