Odd Fellows Block

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Hello. My name is Mike Smith. I am a fourth-generation Wolfe, one of the original pioneer families of Mount Vernon. I was born in 1950 and am a life-long resident. I began working at Bauman’s in 1969, for the original Bauman family. I continued to stay on and eventually bought Bauman’s from my uncles Tom and John Wolfe, and their friend Doug Van Metre. In 2012, my wife Valerie and I remodeled the upstairs of this building, and today, as of the recording of this history, I have worked in this building for 45 years. As a child I remember this building to be the same hub of activity as it is now, and since 1973, the basement has been the meeting place for anywhere from 15 to 25 men beginning every morning at 10:15 a.m. I lovingly refer to this Coffee Club as “Adult Day Care.”

The Odd Fellows Block was built in 1904, as noted on its cornerstone. The second floor of the building housed the local chapter of the International Order of Odd Fellows, accessed by a staircase through the door on the left as you face the building. The Odd Fellows are an international service organization dedicated to the three principles of friendship, love and truth, symbolized by a three link chain. The Mount Vernon chapter of the Odd Fellows was charted in 1892, and held its first meeting in this building on October 26, 1904.

This building is truly a treasure because it has remained largely unaltered through the years. Although building materials from outside suppliers were readily available at the time it was built, all of the brick and stone in this structure came from Mount Vernon sources. The first business to occupy the ground floor, Rood & Young, went bankrupt in 1909. In 1909 Bauman’s took over and today this is the oldest continuously operated merchant business in Mount Vernon. Inside, the original clothes racks and cases are still in place, as is the high balcony at the back where a manager could sit and observe staff and customers.

The basement of this building has housed a variety of barbers, craftsmen and tailors and is now well known as a place to relax with friends over a cup of coffee.

Henry Harrison Rood was working as a plasterer and mason in Nevada, Iowa, when he walked the 70 miles to Mount Vernon to enroll at Cornell College in 1860. Along with many other Cornell students, Rood enlisted in the 13th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He rose to the rank of colonel, and was very active in both civic and veterans affairs after the war. Rood served as the secretary of the Cornell College Board of Trustees for 47 years. For decades, he not only was a partner in a clothing store in town, but also spent time on the road as a traveling salesman.

Colonel and Mrs. Rood had seven children, four of whom preceded them in death.  The couple was devoted to each other, exchanging love letters, and observing a special ritual on a certain anniversary day each year, when they would dress up and ride together in their buggy into the country. The purpose of this annual celebration remained their private secret. Colonel Rood died in 1915. His family home, across from Cornell College, forms part of the Paul Scott Alumni Center.

Simon H. Bauman, whose name remains attached to the clothing store in this building, was born in Ohio in 1842 and, for a time, was the owner and editor of the Mount Vernon Hawkeye.

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Street Address:

124 1st Street Southwest [map]

Cite this Page:

“Odd Fellows Block ,” Mount Vernon History Tours, accessed September 24, 2018, http://ccomeka.com/mountvernonhistory/items/show/13.

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