Lacey Moose Lodge has “dark” past

January 6th, 2020 by Ken

They’ve torn down the old Lacey Moose Lodge from its location on Pacific Avenue in Lacey.  For decades the lodge served as a private club for local residents and involved itself in community affairs when it deemed it appropriate.

You would think that some kind of historical plaque should be attached to the location to mark the historical significance of the facility.  But, the removal of the Moose Lodge brings to the fore front the controversy concerning historical events, property and people.

What is appropriate to be publicly remembered?

Currently the Thurston County Historical Commission is working on a plaque recognizing the significance of the Evergreen Ballroom, primarily in its attraction of black performing groups to “white” Thurston County.

The Lacey Moose Lodge has just the opposite role.  The Lodge was involved in a controversy over race that made negative news around the nation.

In the mid 1960’s, a black family had moved into Lacey.  John Finley had been hired by Governor Dan Evans to be the state director of the Office of Economic Opportunity.  His wife Sylvia was a librarian.  When Sylvia found out there was no library in Lacey, she started a effort to create a volunteer library.  She was so successful, that the Lacey Moose Lodge wanted to honor her for her work.

When she arrived at the Moose Lodge to receive her award, she was turned away because the Lodge didn’t allow blacks in the building.   Mike Layton, a reporter, worked for the Seattle PI.  He wrote a story about the incident that was picked up by other papers.

Governor Evans was furious at the incident and ordered that all executive staff refrain from membership in private clubs.  It must be noted that at that time many private clubs had discrimination rules.

The action of the Moose Lodge brought forth to the public that such discrimination existed and eventually led to laws which made such actions illegal.

So, the question.  Should the Lacey Moose Lodge’s location be recognized for the role in played in furthering the cause of Civil Rights despite its intention.  Or, should the whole incident be forgotten?


Posted in Government, History, The Real News

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