Lodge Hall/Ruby's Grill. When researching vintage Oklahoma City buildings, if they were located in the white community, many sources are available to objectively verify facts, most notably the Daily Oklahoman's archives and, very often, the Sanborn Map Company maps which were very detailed maps made for the insurance industry -- underwriters, adjusters, etc. But, the Oklahoman's reports during days long past did not at all attend to the black community -- articles were limited to reporting fires and crimes and little else. The Sanborn maps, however, were written for the insurance business and, in that context, racial and other social issues were irrelevant. Hence, I consider Sanborn's maps to be an exceptionally reliable primary historical source, particularly in resolving conflicts in literature when they are encountered. This building fits into that category.

The Lodge building is one of the few Deep Deuce buildings to survive the conversion of properties in the area, largely to largely upscale condo and apartment properties. As you see (and click the map for a larger image), the Sanborn map refers to this building merely as "Lodge Hall," and William Welge says that the property was also used for Ruby's Grill. I'm going with that pair of names for now. The photo below the map is from The Hill At Bricktown's commercial website but larger images are at the bottom of this article.

OK. So what's the conflict? For the short version, see Hall's Hall. For the longer version, read on, below.
1922 Sanborn Map Updated 1949



The Hill At Bricktown


William D. Welge. In Mr. Welge's Oklahoma City Rediscovered (Arcadia Publishing 2007), he gives the most detailed information about this building that I have found, though it's not that lengthy. I'll repeat it here, verbatim, as he describes the photograph shown below this text.
Central among the buildings that dominated Second Street was the Elks Victory Lodge, built by Dr. Wyatt H. Slaughter in 1929. The building served as the Rest forthe Elks until 1936. After 1936, the building at 322 Northeast Second Street became the site for several successive restaurants and social clubs. Probably the most notable was Ruby's Grill, established in 1940 by Ruby Lyons, brother to Sidney Lyons. Ruby's Grill became a local nightspot that gained fame across the state. Ruby's Grill offered fine food, musical entertainment, and dancing that continued until 1946. In the mid-1990s, the abandoned building was being proposed as an African American museum. The museum never materialized. This particular photograph was taken in 1995 by W.D. Welge.

So far, so good. Mr. Welge identified the original building as the Elks Victory Lodge, which fits the Sanborn map's more general description, and he identied the location of Ruby's Grill, so far the only source I've found which has given a specific location for that prominent food and entertainment property.
Douglas Henry Daniels. Prof. Daniels is a well-credentialed author and instructor in Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Relevant to this discussion is that he authored One O'Clock Jump: The Unforgettable History of the Oklahoma City Blue Devils (Beacon Press 2006). The research he undertook in writing that book is quite impressive and included interviews of people relevant to the task. The 237 page book truly qualifies as an "academic" book which contains 36 pages of research notes as well as a 7 page index. The book presents not only a study of the Oklahoma City Blue Devils but contains a very nice background of the black experience in early day Oklahoma and Oklahoma City including, of course, Deep Deuce from whence the Blue Devils sprang. In short, he is a writer whose content should be taken quite seriously.

One of his observations does not match what Mr. Welge said about the location of Victory Lodge (the building discussed here), and that's the rub. At page 10 of his book, Daniels says,
Other black businessmen, such as Alphonso Hall, were also quite successful. Mr. Hall was described by the [Black] Dispatch as "one of the substantial property holders of the race" in the capital. He erected a building named after him and owned Hall's Hardware Store on North Central. Hall's Hall was located on the northwest corner of Second and Central. Stores and apartments occupied the first floor while the Elks had their offices on the second; Victory Lodge No. 248, I.B.P.O.E.M., was on the third floor.
He gives as his reference to the above the Black Dispatch, "The Hall Building, Oklahoma City," February 1, 1923, page 1.

So, where was Victory Lodge? In Hall's Hall as Daniels said, at the northwest corner of E. 2nd and Central as of February 1923, or, as Welge said, on the south side of E. 2nd near Stiles apparently built in 1929? Or, was the lodge at both locations but at different times?

Until I learn better, I'm opting for the reconcilliation path in guessing that both writers were correct as of the time they had in mind (but didn't relate when writing their text). But, it would be a mistake to take either writer's observations as absolute fact until some other corroboration presents itself.

Regardless of which, if either, or both, buildings that the Elks Victory Lodge was located in, Ruby's Grill was in this building for sure. At page 61 of Mr. Welge's book, a photo shows a World War II rally with Slaughter Hall in the foreground. A cropped view of that image is shown below, showing the south side of the street:



To the right (west) of the blond brick building is the Black Dispatch location. Next right is the Lodge Hall building discussed here. On that building, look closely ... though the photo quality isn't that great, the sign reads, "Ruby's Grill."



Here are 2 photos I took of this building on March 30, 2009.




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