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.'"

Images

Odd Fellows Hall<br /><br />

Odd Fellows Hall

Despite its decline in the latter half of the twentieth century, the Electra Lodge Odd Fellows Hall was once a vibrant social center in Adamsville. In addition to serving as the meeting space for the Odd Fellows and their auxiliary organizations, the hall was also used for parties, weddings, and USO dances over the course of its history. View File Details Page

Electra Lodge Odd Fellows Hall<br /><br />

Electra Lodge Odd Fellows Hall

This south-facing view of the Adamsville Odd Fellows Hall, c. 1967, shows the building in its declining years, around the same time that the Electra Lodge merged back with its parent lodge in Little Compton due to a lack of members. View File Details Page

Electra Lodge Certificate<br /><br />

Electra Lodge Certificate

This certificate, presented to Walter Elwell in 1928, signified his acceptance into the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, an illustrious fraternal organization primarily concerned with member support and charitable works. The three links of chain in the bottom corners of the certificate symbolize the Odd Fellows three tenets of friendship, truth, and love. Photo courtesy of Walter Elwell. View File Details Page

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 without families, who were moving from job to job and city to city. In 1809, the many independent lodges across England were consolidated with the formation of the Manchester Unity of the I.O.O.F. At this time, the Odd Fellows adopted a constitution, articulated the duties of membership, and chose friendship, love, and truth as the three symbolic links of the I.O.O.F. The four central duties of membership were to “move modestly, quietly and without ostentation, obeying the injunction of the ritual to visit the sick, to relieve the distressed, to bury the dead and to educate the orphan.” Washington Lodge No. l, the first I.O.O.F. lodge in the United States, was organized on April 26, 1819. Over the subsequent decades, the I.O.O.F. spread out across the United States, forming lodges in most large cities and becoming one of the most successful of the fraternal orders introduced to America in the nineteenth century.

Video courtesy of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of the Philippines. View File Details Page

Street Address:

26 Main Street, Little Compton, RI [map]

Cite this Page:

Abigail Ettelman, “Adamsville Odd Fellows: Electra Lodge,” Rhode Tour, accessed June 28, 2017, http://rhodetour.org/items/show/117.

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