The Odd Fellows Hall in Covington, Kentucky is located at the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Madison Avenue. It was constructed in 1856 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge, and was the center of Covington’s civic and political life during the Victorian era.
For most of its 144-year history, the Odd Fellows Hall was not only a lodge, but served as the primary gathering spot for significant local events. The large building featured its own water system, and had an upper floor ballroom-auditorium which was suspended by a 25-foot high truss system with no support pillars in the middle. This unusual design seated 800, whose view would be unobstructed during events. The third floor held lodge rooms.
During the American Civil War it served as a jail and military court for Confederate soldiers. When the war ended, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was honored with a reception there. In 1900, the body of William Goebel, the only U.S. governor to be assassinated in office, lay in state, as an estimated 10,000 people filed past. In the 1950s the second-floor ballroom became a roller skating rink. The hall also held theatrical productions and vaudeville shows, and served as the city of Covington’s first subscription library. Over the years, it’s mammoth size became home to restaurants, bars, retail shops, strip clubs, and liquor stores.
In 2001, just as renovations began to restore the 146 year old building, a major fire gutted the National Register structure on May 22, 2002. The fire destroyed all but its front facade and the north and east walls. Graffiti of Confederate soldiers once held prisoner there on the second-floor were destroyed.
Three years after the fire, the restored Odd Fellows Hall was reopened. The owners of the recently reconstructed Hall hired a team of real estate agents to lease the commercial and office space. Its first tenant opened in March 2006. The building has been fully restored and now houses a high-tech software and consulting service company, an architecture firm, a real estate agency, and a reception hall known as the Grand.
photo: Odd Fellow Building, April 1914, courtesy of Veech Baird