Odd Fellows Hall
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.
Backstory and Context
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.