By Andrea Justice
“There is a great amount of history in this room,” said Carl Allen, as he flipped on the lights to the Odd Fellows Lodge Room. Allen joined the prestigious lodge in 1990 and has since held every position including the Noble Grand title several times.
The lodge room is painted in bright red and blue, highlighting the society’s famous links representing friendship, love and truth. “These are the basic guides for being an Odd Fellow,” said Allen. “Every lodge room in the country is set up similar to this with specific seats and titles for each member.”
This fraternal organization dates back to 17th century England. During this time it was considered odd to find a group of organized people with a purpose of giving aid to those in need and pursing projects for the benefit of all. Those who belonged to such an organization were called “Odd Fellows”.
The history of the Odd Fellows in Globe, Ariz. dates back to August 20, 1887, when the Arizona Silver Belt published a brief announcement: “Regular meeting of Globe Lodge No. 6 IOOF, on Monday night each week at Masonic Hall. All brothers in good standing cordially invited.”
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Globe Lodge No. 6, was chartered in 1885. The “brothers in good standing” referred to the managers and big shots at the Old Dominion Mine. “The Grand Lodge of Arizona didn’t like the restricted membership,” said Allen. That charter was cancelled and the Globe Rescue Lodge No. 12 with open membership was chartered in 1891.
In accordance with Odd Fellow tradition, a Rebekah Lodge, Sultana No. 5, the women’s affiliate organization was chartered in 1896 with 10 members. “The Rebekahs have always held very formal meetings,” noted Allen, as we glanced over group photos that decorate the lodge room.
By the mid 1890s, the Odd Fellows started looking at building a place of their own. They acquired a lot on the west side of Broad Street and began to draw up plans and solicit funds. Constructed between 1898 and 1899, the building was the first two-story structure in Globe’s business district. The lodge was built with fired bricks in the Victorian Commercial style. The meeting rooms were furnished with massive hand-carved furniture that is still used today.
In the lodge’s early days, weekly dances, ice cream socials and other activities, open to the public, were held there until about 1905, when the hall became too small for the large crowds attending.
Over the years, the Odd Fellows have had a number of famous members. In fact, Arizona’s first governor, George W. P. Hunt was a member of the lodge before he moved to Phoenix. Hunt went to work for the Old Dominion Commercial Company; a business located near the lodge that sold groceries, dry goods, clothing and also served as a bank. By 1910 it was the second largest bank in Globe. While the story has not been verified, there are rumors that when Hunt became president of the Old Dominion Commercial Company he deposited monies from the company to a bottom vault in his trusted Odd Fellows Lodge by way of the back alley. Other notable members include Al Seber, a Civil War veteran and leader of Scouts for the US Army in the Arizona Territory, and John H. Thompson, who served as Gila County Sheriff for eight nonconsecutive two year terms, from 1890 until 1912.
The Odd Fellows Lodge Room is located on the second floor of the building, and a variety of businesses have occupied the ground floor. The most notable business was the first Globe Hardware Company. In 1940, Billie’s Cafe occupied the bottom floor and later Bill Hardt’s Unique Sporting Goods moved in and stayed for 25 years. “Historically, we’ve always relied on the rent from these businesses,” said Allen. “They help to pay the bills.”
The entrance to the second floor hasn’t always been accessible for it’s members. For over a century the only way up into the lodge was a very steep staircase that climbs up the side of the building. But thanks to the hard work of Allen and other members, the lodge now has a very modern elevator. “We put in an elevator just last year,” said Allen. “It was getting tough for our older members to take the stairs so we had to do something.”
In 1996, a fire gutted the first story of the historic building. The fire, which originated in the One Stop Bike Shop below, only lightly damaged the rooms and furnishings upstairs. This was thanks to a false ceiling which makes up an eight foot difference between the floors. Fire fighters told Odd Fellow members that the cushion of air between the floors helped to keep the fire from spreading to the lodge room. Repairs were made to the Odd Fellow chambers, and the first floor was remodeled and made ready for new tenants.
Today, after more than a century of quorums and traditions, the Odd Fellows still meet twice monthly in the historic IOOF building located on North Broad Street in downtown Globe. “The lodge is one of the oldest buildings still existing in Globe,” said Allen. The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs are now in their second century of carrying out their fraternal and community services.