ITHACA, N.Y. –– Due to COVID-19 social distancing regulations forcing businesses to temporarily cease operations, Ithaca’s historic Forest City Lodge faced a loss of revenue that almost shut the building’s doors for good.

But, in just one day, a fundraising campaign for the Lodge was able to raise over $11,000 –– enough to keep the Lodge open and even make some improvements to the building.

Forest City Lodge 180 is home to the black fraternal organization the Elks Club and is the oldest black-owned business in Tompkins County, having recently celebrated its 108th anniversary on Green Street.

Income for the Lodge comes mostly from bar and food sales during community social events. In recent years the venue has hosted popular events such as music and comedy shows. Without those events, bills have piled up and revenue has been essentially nonexistent.

The GoFundMe page, which was shared rapidly throughout social media networks over the weekend, asked for $10,000 in donations. $4000 for overdue bills, $5000 for bills to last until coronavirus social distancing is ended and $1000 to go towards expenses needed to jump-start their food take-out service when operations are able to resume.

According to a note added to the page, the excess funds will go towards, “further financial safety, as well as maintenance and upgrades to the building and its facilities.” The post on the GoFundMe goes on to say,  “together we can make this organization flourish.”

Elks leaders also added their thanks to those who made contributions.

“From all the members of Forest City Lodge #180 and Cayuga Temple #54, thank you for your support and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone in the future,” said Geoff Stroman, the exalted ruler

Treasurer James Carter said, “thank you for the donations so far, it’s all really appreciated.”

Featured photo by Maro Kariya.

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at