As discussed in the last article, the Independent Order of Oddfellows (IOOF) discontinued operation of its orphanage at the North Main Street location in 1972. However, IOOF members still wished for the building to serve its greater purpose of providing support for children.
It was thereafter decided that the structure would become a “home” for community based groups, with priority given to those directly serving children. Becasue of its vast size and ammenities, the Odd Fellows building housed many diverse organizations, including the following dedicated specifcally to youth;
Crawford County Head Start
Covenant Christian School
Northwest Intermediate Unit
Latch Key After School Program
Meadville Children’s Center
Meadville Cooperative Preschool
In addition, the building hosted a variety of other service related entities, such as Meadville Medical Center Mental Health, Senior Citizen Advocate and Crawford County Emergency Services. Allegheny College began renting Odd Fellows space and in 1990 purchased IOOF property to construct its new science center. In 2001, the college purchased the building outright and it has been the location of its English, Philosophy and Religious Studies programs for many of those years.
First as an orphanage, then as community hub, the Odd Fellows building has a long and distinguished history of serving those in need, particularly children. The next article here will focus on one of its longest term tenants, our own Meadville Community Theatre, and the special relationship we have had with this important city landmark.