Before the Elks took possession, the property housed one of the elegant brothels that dominated South Basin Street between Canal Street and Tulane Avenue prior to the establishment of Storyville. When the city ordinance restricting prostitution to a defined geographical district was passed in 1897 the "pleasure palaces" then operating outside of the specified limits were forced to relocate.
Elks lodge #30 purchased the building at 121 South Basin Street in September 1897 (the street name was changed to Elk Place early in the following year). The organization later hired the architectural firm of Stone Brothers to implement major renovations and $70,000 improvements to the structure. The newly renovated hall opened on January 29, 1907.
Though replaced by a larger and more modern structure in 1917 (still standing, though now owned by Tulane University), the old Elks' Home had been quite a showplace in its own right.
We know something about the appearance of the Elks' Home from a group of photographs taken by famed Storyville portraitist Ernest J. Bellocq, that were reproduced in the March 1907 issue of the Southern Buck. That journal, published monthly in New Orleans, was the "official organ of the States of Louisiana and Mississippi and endorsed by the Texas Benevolent and Protective Army of Elks." Bellocq's photographic work also provides a glimpse of what constituted popular interior design in New Orleans more than a century ago.