The Odd Fellows Hall is a historic hall of the Odd Fellows society, this one located in Alexandria, Virginia. The original building was built in 1864, and in 1870, it was expanded upon to reach the size the hall currently is. Additionally, the hall is particularly interesting because it allowed African Americans access and membership in the organization, where other social organizations of the time would not. On September 10th, 2003, it was designated on the Virginia Landmark Register, and on January 16th, 2004, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Odd Fellows was a communal organization which had roots
in England, dating back to the late eighteenth century. Few communal
organizations like the Odd Fellows allowed for African American membership, but
the Odd Fellows held no such restriction. The Organization founded a chapter in
Alexandria in 1846, making it the second lodge in Alexandria to allow African
American members, the first being a Masonic lodge. After the American Civil War,
it became legal for secret societies to meet, and as a result, several
prominent members of the Odd Fellows chapter in Alexandria decided it was time
for the chapter to have a meeting hall of its own.
The members found a building in 1869, which was constructed
in 1864, that suited them and seemed as though it might make for a quality meeting
hall. They commissioned master carpenter George Seaton to make additions and
enlargements to the home in order to make it into a meeting hall, and in 1870,
the meeting hall was completed and ready for use with the help of funding from
the Freedmen’s Bureau. Though the hall allowed society members of all races,
genders, and secret organizations, it remained particularly important to
African Americans, being one of the earliest in Alexandria to allow them access
to a communal organization. On September 10th, 2003, it was
designated on the Virginia Landmark Register, and on January 16th,
2004, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The hall still
currently serves the Alexandria chapter of the Odd Fellows.