Filed Under Recreation

Elks' Field

As you look at the vast asphalt parking lot stretching from the Winking Lizard to Giant Eagle, it is hard to believe that the area in front of you was once one of the most exciting places in Lakewood. National tennis tournaments, softball world championships, Al Capone's bulletproof Cadillac, yearly circuses and carnivals. It all happened right here.

The building currently occupied by The Winking Lizard was built in 1913 and was the original home of The Lakewood Tennis Club. 2000 spectators were on hand at the club on July 3, 1916, to witness a national clay court tennis tournament. The tennis club vacated the building shortly thereafter, and in 1918 Lakewood Lodge No. 1350 of the Elks took control of the building. The Elks are a national fraternal organization with chapters (or "lodges") across the country. The lodges function as social clubs, but they also maintain a focus on doing good deeds and helping others in their community.

The tennis courts next to the Lakewood Lodge were soon converted into a state of the art softball stadium that regularly drew hundreds of spectators for men's and women's games. Elks' Field was the country's first lighted softball stadium, and the World Softball Championships were played there in 1944 and 1946. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Elks Lodge also hosted circuses and carnivals at the site. Al Capone's black bulletproof Cadillac was memorably featured at one carnival.

The fun at Elks' Field ended in 1958 when the land was leased for the construction of a supermarket. Today, the Winking Lizard inhabits the former Elks Lodge. The building contains a basement bowling alley and still features a grand stairway near the entrance and an upstairs fireplace.

Images

Elk's Field
Elk's Field Elk's Field was the first lighted softball diamond in the United States. The 1944 and 1946 World Softball Championships were held here. Since 1958, this has been the site of a supermarket. Source: Lakewood Historical Society
Lakewood Tennis Club
Lakewood Tennis Club The Lakewood Tennis Club, built in 1913, became an Elks lodge in 1918. In this photo, the building is still a tennis club, and its courts can be seen behind the building on the left. In the foreground are streetcar tracks running along Detroit Avenue. This building is now home to a restaurant and bar. Source: Lakewood Historical Society Date: ca. 1915
Elks Circus
Elks Circus The Lakewood Elks lodge held summer circuses in Elk's field during the 1920s and 1930s. Source: Lakewood Historical Society Date: ca. 1930s
Snowy Detroit Avenue
Snowy Detroit Avenue A Sohio (Standard Oil of Ohio) gasoline station was once in service next to the the Elks lodge on Detroit Avenue. Source: Lakewood Historical Society
Tennis Club Lobby
Tennis Club Lobby The Lakewood Tennis Club was constructed in 1915. The grand staircase still exists and can be seen by anyone visiting the Winking Lizard Tavern that currently occupies the building. Source: Lakewood Historical Society Date: ca. 1915

Location

Detroit Ave at Bunts Rd, Lakewood | Demolished. Location is now a parking lot for Giant Eagle and Winking Lizard.

Metadata

Richard Raponi, “Elks' Field,” Cleveland Historical, accessed February 28, 2024, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/249.