The formation and birth of SPJST Lodge 88 Pokrok Houston took place on March 20, 1910.
The fifteen members of the Czechoslovak Cultural Club Pokrok met and voted to organize an SPJST Lodge. A letter to the SPJST Supreme Lodge, located in La Grange, Texas at the time, requested permission to organize a lodge under the title of SPJST Pokrok Houston. The request was granted and the number 86 was assigned and later changed to Lodge 88.
The Supreme Lodge Secretary, Brother J. R. Kebena, installed the new Lodge into the order on May 1, 1910, on the premises of the Bruner Park at Shepherd Drive and Washington Avenue. Thereafter, meetings were held in the Clay Building located on Washington and Houston Avenue at a rate of $1.25 per month. To attend a meeting a password was used before being admitted by the outside as well as the inside guard.
At a meeting on January 8, 1911, a motion was made by a member to explore the possibilities of finding a suitable location for the lodge home. A committee was appointed to locate a site and to report the results at the next meeting. On February 12, 1911, the committee reported that two conveniently located lots in the Studewood addition were available for $525 with a discount of 25% provided construction would start within three months. The membership approved and the committee was given authority to close on the transaction. On March 11, 1911 the building committee reported the purchase of three lots instead of two thanks to a generous member who lent additional funds. On June 18, 1911 the first building of SPJST Lodge 88 was dedicated.
In the years following the dedication, SPJST Lodge 88 held many meetings, dances, and other activities in their building. The membership voted on many things that are noteworthy to the history and values of our lodge, and in which many still continue to this day. Some of the contributions the members at the time made included providing monetary benefits to sick members (including other lodges), raising money for local charities, hosting drama plays, teaching Czech language classes, and setting up a Youth Club only until the members of this club left to join the military during World War II.
In 1934, the Lodge membership held its last meeting in their first home because of the very poor condition it was in. The second home of Lodge 88 was built and dedicated on February 10, 1935. The Lodge was located at 1140 Robbie Street. Again, after the dedication of the new home of SPJST, the members continued to host dances, free picnics for their members, and continued to donate more often to local charities. It was also decided that the new building would be rented out for parties or weddings, as requested.
Several years later the membership voted again to begin looking for a new site for Lodge 88 since the current site was becoming somewhat older and not suitable for the use it was originally intended for. More land and additions to the current building were needed in order to turn the location into the place the membership sought. Therefore, on August 24, 1962, a special meeting was held to announce the proposition to buy a nine-and-a-half acre property located on Beall Street. The membership approved this.
The current, and third site, of SPJST Lodge 88 actually sits on twelve-and-a-half acres of property (three acres located across the street) at 1435 Beall Street. On February 20, 1965, the building was dedicated. About a year later, the membership voted to build an Olympic-sized swimming pool in the back of the property. The Lodge also added a children’s playground and later, a tennis court, basketball court and gazebo were added. The Lodge members not only continued their activities and contributions that they brought with them from their past Lodge homes, but added other events such as ceramic classes, splash days, hosted the Heights Little League, and many more new activities. The new location became a beacon of hope for the future members of Lodge 88.
In 1996, a new annex building was built behind the main Lodge building to allow for increased space for meetings, special events, and rentals. Today, our Lodge members and leaders are continuing to move forward off of the progress made in the past few years and keep that beacon of hope that our past members envisioned shining. Our members and leaders have worked together to help maintain the property located on Beall Street, as well as to pursue efforts to rejuvenate the property that is so significant to the existence of SPJST Lodge 88.