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Odd Fellows Hall

The Owasco Odd Fellows Hall in its new location on Gahwiler Road in 1974.

Last month, on July 15, I featured the move of the Owasco Odd Fellows Hall on July 4, 1974. I quoted the words and revealed the tremendous effort of both George Groom and his brother Fred, with the help of friends Wendall Hatfield and Edward Wild, to move the back section of the hall up the street to the back of a field on land George had purchased for $900.

The picture with this column shows the hall set on a foundation of cement blocks, in its new and finished location on Gahwiler Road. George confided that he had brought the cement blocks home in his car. He could only handle 12 blocks at a time. As you look at the picture, can you imagine how many trips he had made?

The research I did on the timeline and history of the hall was very instructional. The building was used for many events and had several name changes. I found that it reflected the social history of the community, too. The hamlet's residents gathered there for respite during the Great Depression and after World War II. They joined fraternal organizations such as the Odd Fellows and the Grange, held church dinners and even a missionary tea in 1926 (Owasco Reformed Church), and voted at Bristol and the hall in 1929. In 1927, 200 people enjoyed the Ladies Kitchen Band. They held fundraisers such as the Owasco Reformed Church minstrel show in 1929. Later, Cub Scout Pack 67 and Boy Scout blue and gold banquets were held there as each generation carried on the small-town legacy of community.

This year we are celebrating the centennial of women’s right to vote in New York state. A newspaper item in 1915 stated, “In the interest of equal suffrage, there will be a meeting and speaker ... at the Odd Fellows hall.” By the 1960s, the building was now called the Grange Hall and it held round and square dances. On June 15, 1962, 651 people were administered the polio vaccine there. In 1950, antique auctions were held. In 1953, the Grange began the Owasco Chicken Barbecue with events across the street in Earl Glanville's field.

The earliest date I found in my newspaper search was the advertisement in 1903 for the annual Leap Year Party to be held at “Hopkins Hall.” The bill was $1.15 admission, including “horse care.” In March 1904, The Sargent Volunteers Bible Class of the Owasco Reformed Church put on a play for four evenings at Hopkins Hall. Hopkins Hall was the final destination in late June for the 1906 annual Skaneateles High Schools seniors “Straw Ride.” There were two wagons that picked up the celebrants at the high school and left for Owasco in the evening ride.

The names of the newly elected officers of the Owasco Odd Fellows Hall in 1933 was published in the Moravia Republican Register. Many of the names will be familiar: Chalmer Sagan, Carl Kent, George Fisher, Keith Belnap, Harold Wilson, John Hare, George Fisher, Howe Defendorf, Lynn Ripley, John Hart, Herman Woodruff, Levi O’Dell, Glen Shaver and Fred Gunsales.

I would be grateful if anyone who has a story about the Odd Fellows Hall or Grange Hall would contact me. I appreciate, too, any pictures you would be willing to share.

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Laurel Auchampaugh is the Owasco historian and can be reached at the Owasco Town Hall from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoons or at historian@owascony.gov.

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