By Deborah Jackson
Redondo Beach residents have a long history of active lodge and philanthropic organization involvement. Locals have joined the Masons, Elks, and Eagles, among others. Masonry, also known as Freemasonry, is the world’s largest and oldest fraternal organization whose history dates back to the Middle Ages. The Redondo Beach Masonic lodge is located at 501 S. Catalina and is a Period Revival structure built in 1927.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was formed in 1868. The BPOE was formed to be a leading fraternity in the days when men were defined by who they were associated with. The Elks have had a presence in Redondo since the early 1900’s. A portion of the historic depot building which was their early lodge hall is located behind interior walls of their current building.
In 1898, the “Order of Good Things” was established and, later that year, the organization changed its name to the Fraternal Order of Eagles. The Redondo chapter is located in a 1937 Moderne building at 128 S. Catalina. The National Eagles can be credited with founding of Mother’s Day, providing the impetus for Social Security and pushing to end job discrimination based on age.
Another important organization is the Woman’s Club of Redondo Beach. Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the women of Redondo Beach have gathered to join in making our community a better place to live. They are a charitable organization and are affiliated with the California Federation of Women’s Clubs and nationally with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. The Woman’s Club supports a variety of community activities and are located in a 1922 Craftsman National Landmark building at 400 S. Broadway.
A local woman’s organization with Morrell family ties is the P.E.O., which is a philanthropic educational organization. Both Allie and Velma Morrell were members, but of different chapters. The P.E.O. is one of the pioneer societies for women, and was founded on January 21, 1869 by seven students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Today, P.E.O. has grown from that tiny membership of seven to almost a quarter of a million members in chapters in the United States and Canada. The P.E.O.’s mission is to promote educational opportunities for women through its five international philanthropies: P.E.O. Educational Loan Fund, Cottey College, P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship Fund, P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education, and P.E.O. Scholar Awards. Friendship is the cornerstone of P.E.O. and is fundamental in its efforts to be a source of encouragement and support for women to realize their potential. Nearly 77,800 women have benefited from the organization’s educational grants, loans, awards, special projects and stewardship of Cottey College. To date, P.E.O. has awarded Educational Loan Fund dollars totaling $117 million, International Peace Scholarships of $22 million, Program for Continuing Education grants of $30 million and Scholar Awards of $10 million. In addition, approximately 8,000 women have graduated from Cottey College. The P.E.O. is still alive and well in Redondo Beach and Chapter H (Allie’s alma mater) recently held its Board Meeting at the Morrell House. What an appropriate choice. One final organization worth mentioning is the Redondo Beach Historical Society. With only twenty years under our belt, we are, by far, the new kid on the block, but worth checking out anyway.