Former Moose lodge to become tropical club

August 27, 1997


Staff Writer

The future owner of the former Moose lodge at 17105 Downsville Pike south of Hagerstown said Wednesday he wants to bring national music acts to the facility and turn it into a tropical-themed destination that would employ 150 people.

Michael St. Clair, a one-year resident of Hagerstown and formerly a music and entertainment producer in Miami, said he plans to stage national acts including Top 40 bands, '50s and '60s bands, and big-band music.

St. Clair told the Washington County Zoning Appeals Board Wednesday that he plans to keep the 24,000-square-foot facility functionally the same as when the Moose operated it, with banquets, receptions, a lounge, bar and restaurant. The appeals board must approve the use as a special exception because the facility is zoned agricultural.


The 632 Limited Partnership has a contract to buy the property from Moose International and would then sell it to St. Clair, said Gene Albert Jr. of Clear Spring, one of 632's partners.

St. Clair said it would take him about six months to get the restaurant and lounge facility up and running under a "very tropical" theme after getting approvals and buying the building.

"You'll feel you're walking into an island."

Dan Litten, a next-door neighbor and Moose member, said he didn't have a problem with it if it was operated like the Moose Lodge. But he said he was concerned about traffic, pollution and thumping rock-and-roll music upsetting the quiet, mostly retired neighborhood.

St. Clair said he wouldn't have outdoor bands, would hire security guards to patrol the parking lot, and didn't plan to have heavy metal-type bands.

"I'm not coming in here creating a monster," he said.

St. Clair said he didn't intend to open a bingo parlor or sell tip jars. He would have a game room including pool tables and video games.

He said he planned to be open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily and would serve alcohol.

St. Clair said some of the acts he has booked in the past in Miami include Gloria Estefan; Blood, Sweat and Tears; Bruce Springsteen; and John Travolta.

Attorney William Wantz said another advantage of the operation is that it would be for-profit and pay taxes, unlike the Moose.

The building has been vacant since Moose International shut down the lodge in February 1994, citing repeated violations of the organization's laws and policies.

When it was operated as Moose Lodge No. 212, the lodge had as many as 10,000 members, making it the largest Moose lodge in North America.

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