Archives Treasure #2: Odd Fellows Lodge photos

Archives Treasure #2: Odd Fellows Lodge photos


Odd Fellows Lodge in Olympia in early 1900s. (Photos courtesy Washington State Digital Archives)

The second Archives Treasure this month is a bit Odd. Literally.

It’s a collection of photos and documents of the Odd Fellows Lodge in Olympia. The building, located at the corner of 5th and Capitol Way, was constructed in 1888. It burned down on Jan. 7, 1937. The Odd Fellows chose not to rebuild, but moved their meeting place to the Barnes building, where they continue to meet.

The Olympia Lodge No. 1 was instituted nearly 160 years ago, on July 13, 1855, the first fraternal organization in the Washington Territory and still exists today. Many of the group’s earliest members were instrumental in the history of Tumwater, Olympia, Lacey and Thurston County, including Nathaniel Crosby, George Blankenship, Samuel Percival, George Barnes, Louis Bettman, and George Turner. Its earliest history is held in the Southwest Regional Archives and includes minute books, membership registers, and annual reports, dated between 1857 and 1957.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) was organized in Baltimore in 1819, with the mission to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphans. The emblem of the IOOF are three links of chain, representing Friendship, Love and Truth. In these early days, anyone lending a helping hand to those in need was considered rather “odd” and the name “odd fellows” was given to them.

The top photo features the Odd Fellows Lodge sometime in the early 1900s. The photo is located in the Digital Archives’ State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990. The bottom photo shows firefighters putting out the building fire in 1937. That shot is found in the Digital Archives’ Olympia Fire Department Photograph Collection, 1885-1980.


Firefighters battle blaze at Odd Fellows Lodge in 1937. Note the icicles.


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