A Brief History of the Odd Fellows Hall

By Dexter Lee

Date: 1909 - 1984

 

Hancock Lodge No. 150, I.O.O.F, was instituted June 4, 1907.Grand Master Charles H. Morrill, Deputy Grand Master James R. Townsend, Grand Secretary Russell G. Dyer and a large delegation from Joshua Davis Lodge of Stonington and other neighboring lodges, including Brooklin of Brooklin, Knox of Rockland, Waldo of Belfast, and Star of Hope of Vinalhaven initiated and performed the first, second and third degrees on 32 candidates.  The first officers installed were Noble Grand Alfred A. Staples, Vice Grand George A. Tainter, Secretary Addison M. Parker and Treasurer Horace Stanley.

 

For the first two years the lodge met on the second floor of the Epworth Hall which was owned by the Methodist Church and located across the road from that church.  They were joined in this building by the Deep Sea Lodge of the Knights of Pythias in November of 1909 and later by the Harbor View Rebekah Lodge No. 128 which was instituted April 16, 1909 with 74 candidates taking the Rebekah degree.

 

On January 14, 1909 a corporation was formed by the lodge for the purpose of holding real estate and erecting a lodge building.  Several sites were considered and the land for the present location was donated by Horace Stanley.  The plans for various sized buildings were investigated and by March 8th a plan for a building 40 feet by 85 feet, three stories high with a 20 foot stage at the rear was approved.  It is said that one of the primary requirements for the building was that it be larger than the two-story hall erected by the rival Redmen’s Lodge in 1908.  The specifications were put out to bid and Freeman Stanley, a carpenter from Rockland was the successful bidder at $5,485.00

 

Funding for the hall was expected to be accomplished by issuing $10.00 bonds payable in ten years time.  A total offering of 500 bonds was made, but sales were far less than expected.  A mortgage of $3,500.00 was placed with Charles Montgomery of Camden.  The payments over the years were made with great difficulty and the mortgage was not settled until 1929, ten years after the projected date.  The majority of the bonds were purchased by the Rebekah Lodge who returned the bonds to the corporation as a gift in the 1920’s.

 

Construction of the hall was started in the spring of 1909.  Each brother agreeing to contribute labor or money towards the digging and laying of the foundation.  On October 18th the first lodge meeting was held in the new building and preparations were made for the dedication.

 

On October 26, 1909 the Odd Fellows Hall was formally dedicated.  This afternoon, in addition to the customary whistle which the steamboat blew as it passed Sheriff Ledge, the Rockland Military Band began to play and kept playing until the boat landed.  The dignitaries marched up to the hall to accompaniment of the band where supper was served.  The band gave a concert in the main hall from 7:00 to 8:00 followed by the Dedication Ceremony in the lodge room from 8:00 to 9:30.  After the ceremonies there was a grand ball in the main hall with music by Farnham’s Quintette of Rockland.

 

The hall’s best feature has always been the second floor.  Here have been innumerable dances, plays, minstrel shows, 4th of July celebrations, fairs and since 1919, the site of the annual town meeting.  Following a dance in 1917, it was voted to charge 10 cents admission for spectators at the masquerade ball.  The hand painted stage curtain is supposed to be a gift of either Knox Lodge of Rockland or the City of Rockland.

 

The knights of Pythias shared the new lodge room for a few years and then moved back to Epworth Hall.  On August 31, 1912, 28 of the brothers instituted Burntcote Encampment No. 59, I.O.O.F.  This organization was short lived however, and apparently surrendered their charter about 1920.  In 1922 a room on the first floor was fixed up for use as a town office.  The Town used this until the mid 60’s when the moved into the new office at the fire station.  The room was later used by the local Alcoholics Anonymous group.  A group called the Fisherman’s association Protective Association No. 1 was organized inn 1922 and used the lodge room for a couple of years.

 

The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs continued with a steady membership and regular meetings until early 1930’s.  Although one meeting was closed rapidly, without form, on March 23, 1931, the night the steamboat Governor Bodwell burned in the harbor.  As the depression deepened, the membership rolls declined and interest in the lodges waned.  By the beginning of the Second World War, both organizations had stopped meeting.

 

Following the war there was a revival of interest and both groups were able to attract new members from the returning soldiers and their wives.  For the Odd Fellows, however, the interest only remained until 1953 when the meetings were abandoned except for a few futile attempts to hold lodge in 1959 and 1963.  The Rebekahs valiantly managed to have their meetings and attempted to keep the hall from falling down around them.

 

By 1959, it was unclear who actually owned the building and land.  Adelbert Bridges, heir of the original donor of the land, claimed that the Odd Fellows were no longer in existence and he therefore was the owner.  He offered the property to the Town if they would repair it and give the Rebekahs the right to continue using it.  In 1961, the Town accepted the offer and spent a few thousand dollars making basic repairs to the building over the next few years.  In 1966, the Town released the property back to Mrs. Bridges.  Ownership still remained uncertain as the Odd Fellows charter was still in the lodge room.

 

In 1977 the Grand Master directed the district Deputy to pick up the charter, seals and rituals of the lodge.  This action was stalled off and in April of 1978 the few remaining brothers reactivated the lodge and took in several new members.

 

Since that date the lodge has had a slow steady growth.  Through fundraising appeals, dances, dinners, breakfasts and the support of the Town of Swan’s Island by substantial appropriations at Town Meetings, our lodges have made dramatic improvements in the appearance and usefulness of the building.  A well was drilled, bathrooms and septic system installed, the roof was re-boarded and shingled and the exterior and portions of the interior painted.

 

In 1982 the lot next to the hall was purchased from Inez Ames.  In addition to acquiring space for the septic system and room for a future parking lot, agreement was reached whereby that if the lodge ever ceased to exist, the land and building would revert to the Town of Swan’s Island rather than Mrs. Ames as heir of Horace Stanley and Adelbert Bridges.

 

Much remains to be done.  The Hall needs to be completely rewired.  The rear of the building will require major repairs in the near future.  Windows need replacing.  The metal ceilings need repair.  We want to insulate and panel the dining room.  The paint applied five short years ago needs touching up.  Our Hall is 75 years old and looks it.  However six years ago it looked 175 and beyond repair.  We think that we have made great improvements in the past few years and know we can do much more in the next few.

 

Hancock Lodge No. 150, IOOF

Swan’s Island, Maine

 

Noble Grands

1907

Alfred A. Staples

1931

Lester Kent, Sr.

1908

Ernest McHenan ®

1932

William Osgood

1908

Levi Torrey

1933

Fred Tainter

1909

Willis A. Stanley

1934

Mahlon holmes

1910

Charles C. Bucklin ®

1935

William Van Horn

1910

Augustus C. Dolliver

1936

Seth G. Stockbridge

1911

Adelbert Bridges

1937

Andrew Watson

1912

Seth G. Stockbridge

1940

Maynard Staples

1913

Clarence Gross

1940

Elliott Smith

1914

Henry Buote ®

1942

Robert Martin

1914

Charles C. Bucklin ®

1946

Elliott Smith

1915

Clarence L. Smith

1947

John Wheaton

1916

Henry Buote ®

1948

John Martin

1916

Charles Staples

1950

Wesley Staples

1917

Sidney L. Joyce

1951

Oakley Smith

1918

Merton Staples

1953

John Wheaton

1919

Hiram Dolliver

1963

Maynard Staples

1920

Alonzo G. Sprague

1978

John Wheaton

1921

Addison M. Parker

1978

Milton Staples

1922

William Van Horn

1979

Frederick Ranquist

1923

Alpha E. Stewart

1980

James A. Ranquist

1924

Roscoe C. Joyce

1981

Ralph Hagopian

1925

Herman W. Staples

1982

Norman B. Staples

1926

Burton L. Smith

1983

Eugene A. Norwood

1927

Ernest Withee

 

 

1928

Alfred M. Sprague

 

 

1928

Andrew Watson

 

 

1929

Cleveland Dunham

 

 

1930

Howard Staples

 

 

 

 

Hancock Lodge No. 150, IOOF

Harbor View Rebekah Lodge No. 128

Swan’s Island, Maine

 

Noble Grands

1909

Durilla Joyce

1940

Ruth Kent

1911

Evelyn Bridges

 

Nora Withee

1912

Sylvia Stockbridge

1947

Ruth Moulden

1913

Daisy Torrey

1948

Mallye Smith

1914

Annie Spurling

1949

Georgia Wheaton

1915

Esther Dolliver

1951

Marguerite Batchelder

1916

Vesta Stewart

1952

Bernice Sprague

1917

Jessie Burns

1954

Irene Kent

1918

Thelma Robinson

1955

Mallye Smith

1920

Maude Bridges

1956

Juanita Staples

1921

Hattie Kent

1957

Nellie Ranquist

1922

Hester Freethy

1958

Marguerite Batchelder

1924

Annie S. Kelley

1960

Mallye Smith

1925

Mamie Joyce

1975

Gayle Kent

1927

Sylvia Stockbridge

1979

Nellie Ranquist

1928

Violet Dunham

1980

Mary Ranquist

1928

Lida Sprague

1981

Mallye Smith

1929

Lillian Smith

1983

Dian Hindman

1930

Mary Kent

 

 

1931

Violet Dunham

 

 

1932

Amy Staples

 

 

1933

Rilla Jellison

 

 

1934

Violet Dunham

 

 

1935

Doris Joyce

 

 

1936

Rilla Jellison

 

 

1937

Nora Withee

 

 

1938

Myrtle Staples