National Register of Historic Places in Lander County
The Austin Masonic and Odd Fellows Hall was built in 1867-1868 to provide meeting space for several fraternal organizations.
The two-story brick building has notable original or early features such as a patented cable-supported dance floor, early lodge furniture, grained dressing room closets, a ground-floor store with a cloth ceiling, and evidence of a patented gas light ventilation system and iron storefront security doors.
In addition to the important role the building played in Austin's social life, it also contained a dance hall and, in 1871, a roller-skating rink. The building remains in use by one of its original occupants, Lander Lodge No. 8 F&AM, and also by Nevada's oldest functioning chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star (Electa No. 2).
Recreational use was an aspect of the building from the very beginning; in fact, the hall was introduced to the public with a ball on January 15, 1868. To enhance the suitability of the hall for dancing the Masons and Odd Fellows installed a system of cables to give the floor more bounce. As reported by the Reveille on May 22,1877:
The laying of dark's patent elastic safety floor is completed in Masonic and Odd Fellows' Hall ... In order to give the public an opportunity of testing the merits of the floor, the Trustees have concluded to give a grand ball in the hall, on the night of the 30th instant. Dancing on this floor will be a luxury and a new sensation.
The patented dance floor is still in place, having survived a fire that damaged the hall and destroyed a string of buildings on the north side of Main Street in 1881. The Reveille reported that "the Masonic Hall roof was burned off entirely, and the second floor badly damaged."
The present gable roof may have been installed after the 1881 fire. The gas light flues on the side parapets were another survivor of the fire, and they remained in place well into the first half of the twentieth century before being removed.