History Of The Davis Lodge
November 27, 2011
By Dave Rosenberg, PG #169
On April 12, 1870, “Yolo Lodge #169” Independent Order of Odd Fellows was instituted at “Davisville”, Yolo County. Years later, in the fledgling community of Davisville (later Davis) the Order moved into its first Lodge Hall on the second story of a building on G Street. The facility slowly deteriorated over the years, and the Order had numerous problems with plumbing, rats, rodents and all manner of insects, and was hoping to move into new quarters.
In 1949, Frank Weber, a member of the Davis Odd Fellows passed away. His estate was valued at three-quarters of a million dollars – a substantial amount of money at any time, but certainly so in 1949. Frank Weber left a will donating much of his money to charitable organizations, including the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge and the Davis Rebekah Lodge. In fact, the bequests to the two Lodges were close to $200,000. The Lodges were delighted as this gave them the funds to build a new Lodge Hall. However, a second will emerged and in the second will, an attorney by the name of Thomas B. Leeper was named as the principal beneficiary. The wills were inconsistent.
Years of litigation followed, and the matter was not sorted out till the early 1950’s. So there is a history of involvement by Superior Court Judges with the Davis Odd Fellows. A wise Superior Court Judge ruled in favor of the Lodges, and against Leeper, and the matter was appealed and confirmed by the Third District Court of Appeal. Even more interesting, Leeper was sentenced to state prison on charges of perjury and intent to commit grand theft. Apparently, his will was fraudulent and a fake. It took years in the judicial system to sort that all out.
So, the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge and the Davis Rebekah Lodges were the beneficiaries of Mr. Weber’s generosity. On October 21, 1954, the Odd Fellows Lodge and the Rebekah Lodge – in anticipation of the new Lodge Hall construction and development – formed that Hall Board Association, filing Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The Hall Board Association would own the property and assets of the two Lodges and would be composed of three Rebekah Lodge members and three Odd Fellows Lodge members. (The Hall Board Association continues to
this day and is currently composed of Odd Fellows David Rosenberg, Dave Reed and
Bob Bockwinkel, and Rebekahs Lea Rosenberg, Barb Geisler and Marge Fagan.)
Once the Court case was resolved, the new facility was built in 1955 at its current location – 415 Second Street, Downtown Davis. On June 23, 1956, the new Lodge Hall was dedicated as the home of Yolo Odd Fellows Lodge #169 and Davis Rebekah Lodge #253. The two-story Lodge Hall was a great improvement over the G Street facility, and the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs happily moved in, and abandoned the G Street hall. (Ultimately, the Masons moved into that old and decrepit facility – if you drive by the old building on G Street and look up, you can still see the Masonic symbol on the outside – although the Masons eventually moved out of the G Street location into a new facility in South Davis.) The June 23, 1956 dedication ceremony was attended by the Mayor Pro Tem of Davis Ed Roessler, the Provost of UCD Stanley Freeborn, and numerous dignitaries from the Grand Lodge of California and the Rebekah Assembly of California.
The Lodge Hall was used by the Odd Fellows and Rebekah Lodges (and to some extent by the Davis Encampment #21), but was not used generally by the community, and was not that visible in the community.
In 2006, the Hall Board Association undertook a major remodel and refurbishing of the Lodge Hall. The name of the “Yolo Lodge” had also been officially changed to “Davis Lodge” to reflect the new times, new membership and new Lodge Hall. The major remodel cost the Hall Board Association almost $1 million, but included a modern kitchen, four new bathrooms on both floors, an elevator to replace the chairlift, carpeting and major refurbishing of the Lower Hall including wood-paneled walls, window covers, new ceiling and chandeliers, among other improvements. In addition, an LED, multi-colored sign was installed out front, with the three links and the letters “IOOF” creating visibility in the community. The sign has been lit since its installation.
On March 23, 2007, the newly remodeled Lodge Hall opened to the public and hundreds of Lodge members and residents toured the facility or many “oohs” and “aahs”. Since the remodel, the Lodge Hall has been rented out for public events on a regular basis. In addition to Lodge meetings and events, the new Lodge Hall has been rented for dinners, lunches, weddings, music venues, meetings and activities of all kinds.
In 2011, the Hall Board Association undertook further major upgrades and remodel activity. A new roof was installed on the Lodge Hall and the adjacent property. Also, the Upper Hall was completely remodeled with wood paneling, a stained concrete (and very sturdy) floor, chandeliers, an accessible stage, two levels of hidden storage. The Upper Hall can now seat up to 200 people for a banquet, and 300-plus for lectures and concerts. The final phase of the remodel project will see the upstairs storage room transformed into a Conference Room, suitable for up to 25.