Adamsville Odd Fellows: Electra Lodge

Little Compton was once full of Odd Fellows. That’s no insult. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a fraternal and philanthropic organization established in seventeenth-century England. It arrived on American shores in 1819, and in 1875, Seaconnet Lodge #39 of the Odd Fellows was formed in Little Compton.

According to one possible explanation for the origin of the name “Odd Fellows,” groups formed for charitable purposes in seventeenth-century England were unusual, and their members might have been considered "odd fellows." Initially, the organization restricted membership to Protestant men, but in 1851 the Odd Fellows formed a women’s auxiliary group, whose members were called Magnolia Rebekahs.

In Little Compton, Odd Fellows membership quickly exceeded the capacity of Seaconnet Lodge. On March 1, 1877, some members departed to found Electra Lodge #41 in nearby Adamsville. Despite the physical separation of the two lodges, Odd Fellows member Walter Elwell remembered, “The Seaconnet and Electra were back and forth visiting. Not every meeting but I would say fifty percent of the meetings.”

The two lodges also produced a young girl’s group, called the Theta Roses, and another branch of the Odd Fellows called the Encampment. During the peak of involvement in Little Compton, Odd Fellows meetings drew up to sixty people every week.

However, the group declined quickly. In 1967, the Electra Lodge closed due to inactivity and its remaining members rejoined the Seaconnet Lodge. According to Walter Elwell, “Like every fraternal organization, they’re in trouble.” The former Electra Lodge hall first became a pottery shop called Stone Bridge Dishes, and later became a private residence.

Despite these setbacks, memories of the Odd Fellows remain strong within Little Compton and Adamsville. Boy Scouts troops met at the Electra Lodge, people were married there, and the space was great for dancing. James Brady credits his existence to a USO dance held at the Electra Lodge: “Every time I drive by the Odd Fellows Hall, I say, 'My God, that’s the place where my mom and dad met. And if they hadn’t met, well, for the last sixty-six years, I wouldn’t be here.'"

Video

VIDEO: Brief History of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) began in England in the late eighteenth century, as a working-class alternative to Freemasonry. Membership in the I.O.O.F. provided support and structure for urban industrial workers, particularly those...
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26 Main Street, Little Compton, RI