Odd Fellows Hall gets facelift in New Richland

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 27, 2006

By Ed Shannon, staff writer

NEW RICHLAND &045; Work is now under way on the restoration of the former I.O.O.F. Hall and grocery store building once used by the Abraham family on New Richland’s Broadway Avenue.

Part of the funding for this restoration is based on $6,000 from the Minnesota Historical Society as one of its grants-in-aids projects. These funds were to be matched by local funds.

&8220;We’ve matched that, plus,&8221; said Barb Wildgrube, chairwoman of the New Richland Historical Preservation Committee.

She explained that the first part of the project is to repair the brick work, especially along the building’s parapet, and add reinforcement supports for a portion of the roof. The next phase will be to repair the roof of this historic building.

New Richland’s Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall was constructed in 1902 by the H.A. Payne firm of Albert Lea for a fraternal organization named the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

The second floor was used as a lodge hall and community social center. The first floor was rented out to several businesses to provide income for the lodge. And from 1924 to 1988 this was the location of the grocery store and meat market operated by the Abraham family.

Through the years the I.O.O.F. gradually declined in membership and ceased to exist in New Richland. After the Abraham store closed, the empty building gradually deteriorated and the interior was stripped of fixtures and woodwork. One obvious loss was the date plate or pediment with the date of 1902 near the peak of the building’s front facade.

In 2002 the City of New Richland purchased the building. According to Wildgrube, the future intention is to use this building for a library and as a place to set up several historic displays.

The next grant application is for an architect, Wildgrube said.

Working closely with the Waseca County Historical Society and the Minnesota Historical Society, an application was made last year to have this building listed on the

National Register of Historic Places.

Wildgrube explained that, &8220;We’ll know the decision on this on May 18 or so.&8221;

(Contact Ed Shannon at ed.shannon@albertleatribune.com or call 379-3438.)