Tuolumne County Points of Interest

Historic Point of Interest: Odd Fellows Hall in Big Oak Flat, California The marker in front of the building is a memorial to Joseph E. Lemos (1892-1961) in recognition of thirty years of dedication to Odd Fellowship and service to the youth of the state.
Historic Point of Interest: Odd Fellows Hall in Big Oak Flat, California
Both Photos 8 January 2009
Historic Point of Interest: Odd Fellows Hall in Big Oak Flat, California Photocopy of Photograph
Date Unknown
Historic American Buildings Survey
(Click Photos to Zoom)
Odd Fellows Hall
17340 State Route 120
Big Oak Flat
Built 1853

The Odd Fellows Hall was originally two separate, one-story buildings built of dressed schist slabs set in lime mortar. Schist was plentiful in the area and proved to be an excellent building material. Lime had to be shipped in from a quarry near Sonora.

This was an excellent method of construction, utilized by many of the Gold Rush era buildings that still remain in the Southern Mines. The five large iron doors are set in perfectly squared brick frames. The second story was added in 1924 and is reached by a covered outdoor stairway.

The east half of the lower story housed Kent and Grant's Mercantile. The west half housed Michael Gilbert's grocery store.

Both buildings survived the fire of 1863 which destroyed the original Odd Fellows Hall. Shortly after the fire, the Odd Fellows Grant's store and in the 1880s, they purchased Gilbert's store.

The similarly constructed Gamble Building was the only other building in Big Oak Flat to survive the fire.

Source: The Virtual California Gold Country: Highway 49 Revisited

Gold Rush Stonemasons

Mining camps started as clusters of tents and other makeshift shelters. If the mine was productive, wooden buildings were erected and a town was born.

Conflagrations were a recurring curse. Often entire town were repeatedly destroyed by fire. Stonemasons, especially Italian immigrants from Liguria, began building "fire proof" banks and stores of stone or brick with iron doors and iron window shutters to protect the contents from fire.

Many of these stone buildings survive. Some of them, such as the Butte Store, are the sole reminders of a lost mining town.

Some of these buildings are:

Butte Store in Amador County
Calabozo in Hornitos
Civil War Armory in Georgetown
Compere Store in Murphys
Downieville Museum in Downieville

Fountain & Tallman Soda Works in Placerville
Gamble Building in Big Oak Flat
Hirshfeldter Building in Downieville
Honigsberger Store in Copperopolis
Italian Store in Douglas Flat

Kohler Store in Washington
Mackerman & Company Building in Downieville
Masonic Lodge in Columbia
Masonic Lodge in Hornitos
Nevada Brewery in Nevada City

Nevada Theatre in Nevada City
Odd Fellows Hall in Big Oak Flat
Old Segale Building in Murphys
Old Stone Garage in Truckee
Plymouth Trading Post in Plymouth

Pearson Soda Works in Placerville
Sam Choy Store in Angels Camp
Stage Stop in La Grange
Valente Building in Murphys
Watts & Tannahill Company Store in Groveland

Wells Fargo Bank and Stage Stop in Georgetown
Wells Fargo Express in Chinese Camp
Wells Fargo Express in French Corral
Wells Fargo & Company in North San Juan

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) is an altruistic fraternal organization derived from the similar English Oddfellows service organizations which came into being during the 1700s....Although in Britain the Odd Fellows tended to meet in pubs, in the U.S. the lodges often built their own facilities. Many of these are now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places....

From Wikipedia entry for Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Prev | Next
Tuolumne County: List | Map
California: List | Map