The Friendly Fifth

History of Lodges

Leif Erickson 189 (Disbanded in 2017)

Leif Erikson Lodge 272 (now 189) was organized on April 30, 1925 with the help of Christian Ludvigsen and Andrew Eriek, members of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson Lodge 97. The first president was Hans Pedersen.

All meetings were conducted in Norwegian until 1941, but it was more and more difficult as the younger generation could not understand or speak enough Norwegian. It was decided to conduct the meetings in English.

A Building Club was started in hopes that one day Leif Erikson Lodge could have its own building. To help build up the treasury of the building fund, a Dramatic Club was started, with all the profits from the plays going toward a future home.

The veterans at Hines Veteran's Hospital were chosen as an outreach program for the lodge. The Dramatic Club put on plays for their entertainment, with members donating money to buy cigarettes for the veterans. During the war dinners were given for the servicemen, with gifts of pen and pencil sets from the lodge members.

As an added bonus, members in the service were given free dues, a practice that continued until January 1, 1957.

A number of activities have been sponsored by the lodge through the years. At one time there was a softball league, pinochle tournament with other lodges', and a bowling league of our own. Every year there was a family picnic, and goodwill parties held for members in distress.

Several times we have had membership drives with a contest between the men and the women, with the losers taking complete charge of the dinner that would culminate the end of the drive.

In 1948 the members started to look for a building that would be suitable for lodge meetings. In 1949 a furniture store was bought at 4022 West Armitage Avenue. Members bought certificates on which no interest was charged so there would be money available to convert the building into one large hall and one smaller hall. Members volunteered their time to make it suitable for meetings, banquets, dances, and stage plays.

The first meeting in our own hall was held on April 16, 1950 with the grand opening in September. The lodge was host to the Fifth District Convention in 1952, a huge success. Four years later all the lodges in the Chicago area were hosts to the Supreme Lodge Convention, with Leif Erikson doing its part.

In 1966 Henrik Ibsen Lodge 189 expressed a desire to merge with Leif Erikson 272. In July 1967, after several meetings, the two lodges became Leif Erikson Lodge 189. Henrik Ibsen had been chartered in 1919 with 47 members. There are no living charter members of either lodge.

One of our members, Chris Johansen, served in several capacities on the District Board, two terms as president, 1958-1962. He then went on to the International Board and served there for eight years.

After 20 years of having our own building, we found it necessary to sell due to changing neighborhoods, lack of parking and rentals. The money realized was invested with the hope of again having our own home. Presently we meet at the Disabled Veterans' Hall, 5621 Irving Park Road, Chicago.

.... Chris Johansen

Leif Erickson 189 formally disbanded in 2017