The Deale Moose Lodge in Anne Arundel County has begun turning a 70-year-old schoolhouse in Shady Side into its new home even though the county liquor board turned down its request for a license.
Members are bringing their own bottles while they await the outcome of an appeal of that decision.
Neighbors, who say they haven't had any problems yet, are uncomfortable with the lodge in their midst.
"It's nothing we have personally against the Moose," said Carol Crandell, who lives across Snug Harbor Road from the former Shady Side Elementary School. "It's against any organization that has drinking."
The Moose announced plans earlier this year to move into the school, saying the more than 400 members had outgrown the old lodge about a mile away.
Shady Side residents rallied against the Moose application for a liquor license, and the county liquor board voted unanimously against it last March.
Residents believed the defeat of the liquor license meant the defeat of the Moose's plans to move into the school, but the lodge appealed the decision and bought the building and 2.4 acres from the Order of Eastern Star.
The lodge moved in at the beginning of July, and members are donating time and money to renovate the old building.
Tim Jackson, the lodge governor, said the organization expects to spend more than $100,000 over the next year on the renovations.
"You wouldn't recognize the place," said Peggy Galloway, a Shady Side resident and Moose member. "They're doing it up in fine style."
The lodge has put in new carpet and refurbished the restrooms and plans to paint the exterior soon.
Members also are renovating an area for children, part of an effort to dispel a negative image among some of the neighbors.
"We're a family fraternity," Mr. Jackson said.
The organization has also agreed to keep its stretch of Snug Harbor Road clean under the State Highway Administration's adopt-a-highway program.
That point was not lost on Mrs. Crandell, who was especially galled when highway officials put a sign in her front yard advertising the Moose's adoption of the road.
Her husband took down the sign, but police told her she had to return it. Mrs. Crandell appealed to the State Highway BTC Administration, which moved the sign down the road.
John Douglass, a local artist, believes the old school should have been set aside for a community park and library branch. He points out that the building is surrounded by homes and a church, and he believes a Moose lodge is inappropriate there.
Like many Shady Side residents, he was surprised to learn that the Moose bought the property after being denied the liquor license.
Mr. Jackson said no place in the area suited the members as well as the old school.
Now that the lodge has moved in, residents are at a loss what to do next. Even if the liquor board decision is upheld, the Moose will stay, and members will continue to bring their own drinks, Mr. Jackson said.