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Porter Hall is a 3-story building at 1918 MLK, Jr. Way, completed in 1909 as a meeting hall for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. It also served as a meeting place for numerous organizations over the years. Later it held the headquarters for the local electrical workers union, and was also known as Alco Electric Hall. 5

The story of the building starts in 1906, when the meeting place of the Porter Lodge No. 272 of the I.O.O.F. was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. The lodge met various other places but found them unsatisfactory. Following the earthquake, members formed the Porter Hall Company and had plans drawn to build a 9-story building at what was then 1462 Grove Street. The building designed by architect Samuel Blair Zimmer was to have a mansard roof, with the lower 3 floors used for department stores. The floors above that would have offices, and the upper floors would be lodge rooms. The top floor would be a large assembly hall. 2

Perhaps the planned building was too expensive, so they opted to build the more modest structure that still stands today. It was designed by De Vere Vining ("D.V.") Deuel. The cornerstone was laid in December 1908. Cemented into it were the symbols of the Odd Fellows, along with the bylaws of some of the Rebekah lodges. 3 The building was completed in 1909, and the Odd Fellows celebrated with a grand ball. 4

unbuilt design 11912 Sanborn excerpt

Links and References

  1. Stately Home For Porter Lodge of Odd Fellows Oakland Tribune August 25, 1906
  2. The Odd Fellows Will Construct Fine Building Oakland Tribune December 1, 1906
  3. Odd Fellows Today Will Lay Corner Stone of New Home Oakland Tribune December 6, 1908
  4. Odd Fellows Arrange Grand Ball to Open New Headquarters Oakland Tribune April 18, 1909
  5. Foresters Order To Convene Here Oakland Tribune May 10, 1964