The cornerstone of the Odd Fellows Hall was laid on May 19, 1905. Pictured above are members of the Odd Fellows. The hall is located under the Clock Tower on Main Street in Downtown Santa Paula. Photo provided

Clock Tower: Odd Fellows to celebrate building centennial on Saturday

December 07, 2005
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesAn authentic - and massive - Seth Thomas timepiece is just one facet of the allure of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows #314 Lodge Clock Tower on East Main Street, perhaps the most famous symbol in Ventura County.The Clock Tower building, which has been featured in photographs, the city seal, advertising, police badges, and has even “starred” in films, is celebrating its 100th anniversary with an open house Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m., according to Grand Noble Ron Merson. The open house is being held in conjunction with the Downtown Merchants Association Holiday Cookie Contest, which will take place upstairs in the lodge.“We’d like everyone to stop by and have a tour” of the building that is undergoing renovations, noted Merson. “We want to show it off... have people look around,” and perhaps even interest potential new members.Although the centennial of the grand old building is being celebrated, the Odd Fellows have had a much longer presence in Santa Paula. The local branch of the international organization was formed on April 21, 1884.The Order of Odd Fellows is a benevolent and social organization, sometimes classified as a “friendly benefit society having initiatory rites and ceremonies, gradation or degrees in membership, and mystic signs of recognition and communication,” according to the organization’s history.The Order of Odd Fellows was established in England in the 1700s, and is believed to have garnered its unusual name from its initial members, laborers who were the first to organize such a society. In those days, it was only wealthier and often-titled men who formed such groups. Another explanation is that the original Odd Fellows were men engaged in various or odd trades for which there was no organization to join as available to those who pursued more common work.
Either way, the East Main Street lodge was the first major building to be completed after the December 1903 fire that decimated the business district including the Odd Fellows meeting place, a wooden building known as Cleveland Hall. The cornerstone was laid on May 19, 1905 and the 12,000 square foot building was dedicated on December 13, 1905.Over the decades, dedicated Odd Fellows have worked tirelessly to maintain and improve the building. Merson said that members earthquake retrofitted the structure, built the small elevator at the rear of the building, and restored the clock.The first floor of the Odd Fellows building is occupied by Brownie’s Basement, reflecting the tradition of the Odd Fellows organization, which realized that lodges would be more likely to prosper with income that could be applied to building maintenance and upgrading. The building also features a game room and full kitchen, a massive main meeting room overlooking Main Street, a full basement, and smaller spaces, all holding history of the city and the Odd Fellows. There’s even recreational space on a third floor.Over the years, dedicated Odd Fellows such as the late Les Maland - the plaza outside the building is named in his honor - and Edward “Zak” Zakrajshek, as well as Lou Lebo, set the example for younger members in building care and improvement.“Odd Fellows will be here as docents” to show visitors around the lodge on Saturday, said Merson. “Odd Fellows are in the process of continuing to remodel and restore the structure, we’re working hard on it. Odd Fellows is looking for new members... come on up and look at us, check us out and see what you think. If you have construction skills, we’re looking for people!”

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