Masonic Building Demolition
by editors, B. Horak & B. Ekse

Click to view a slide show of the demolition process.
Thanks to photographer, Chuck Hanson, who took time
to photograph the progress of the demolition for us. March photos by B. Horak

The Wheeler Masonic Lodge #398 building on the south side of Second Street in downtown Odebolt, remembered by many as the old post office, is no more. Odebolt City Council approved demolition of the building at their May 5, 2008 Council Meeting. The dismantling of exterior steel siding and demolition of the building took place at the end of May 2008.

Wheeler Lodge member, Bill Dreesson, was interviewed March 13. He said the building had been deemed unsafe after three buildings to the west of it were demolished in May 2006. It was cracking in the southwest corner, had developed a bulge in the wall and was in poor general repair. In addition, cost of utilities, and especially heating, was getting expensive. Lodge members agreed to move out of the building and demolish it.

The lodge moved their charter to Arthur, Iowa to meet in Ben Hur Lodge No. 611 just north of the Arthur Library. Women’s Odebolt and Arthur Eastern Star lodges merged some years ago, and also meet in the Arthur building. The Wheeler Lodge and Ben Hur Lodge will remain independent. Costs for the Arthur Masonic Lodge will be split three ways.

The dismantling process in the interior of the building started back in March. Dreesson said a contract was made with N. D. Mill Werk Salvage and Sales from Paulina, Iowa to remove the tin ceilings, woodwork and floors. Furniture was sold to a Minneapolis company which purchases Masonic furniture. Handrails from the stairway were taken to the Odebolt Museum to be used on the stairway there. Plans are to use some original furniture, paneling and all of the old photos to make a “Masonic Lodge replica” in the upper level of the museum.

(Click photos to enlarge)

Looking west on 2nd street about 1910. 
The "Adams Bank" has not yet been built.

The editors' grandparents, Sigurd & Anna Carlson
parked in front of the building circa 1915.

HISTORY:  (See below for items from The Chronicle about when this building was built in 1895.)  The east part of the building was occupied in 1895 by First National Bank, which moved in 1915 to what is known as the Adams bank building, now First State Bank on the corner of Main and 2nd. It then was used as a post office for many years. Wheeler Lodge #398, which was chartered in 1880, purchased the building in 1920 and met in upper level rooms. There was also a dental office in the upper level and the Odebolt Chronicle was printed there for a time. A one-room apartment was located in the rear of the upper level.

The west part of the building was was occupied by W.J. Summerwill Drug Store and later a men's clothing store. The Masonic lodge started meeting in this portion of the building in about 1973.

(Click photo to enlarge)
A view of 2nd Street about 1940 shows a bustle of activity with the post office building in the center.
All three buildings to the right were torn down in May of 2006.

We think of all the generations of people who climbed the stairs of this building: to go to work, to the bank, to the post office, to the dentist, to a lodge event, to shop for furniture or clothing. Many ladies of a certain age remember the women's restroom in the basement which was accessed from an outside stairway in the alley. Perhaps your ancestors signed a mortgage at the bank to buy a farm; or maybe your great-grandmother tried her first false teeth there; or maybe your ancestors bought furniture for their first home there. When it served as the post office it was the hub of the community, a daily meeting place and scene of thousands of conversations.

What stories this building could have told! It served the community well for many years, and we'll miss it.


THE CHRONICLE. VOL. 9. NO. 1. MAY 16, 1895.

The New Bank Building

The stockholders of the First National Bank have decided to erect a new bank building on their lots on Second street this season. Work will begin as soon as material can be procured, and the building will be ready for occupancy by January 1 at the latest.

The structure will be of brick, with the exception of the front, which will be either stone or iron, probably the latter. It will be 26 feet high, 100 feet long and 15 feet wide, with flat roof. The bank rooms will be on the east side, with the entrance cornering on the street and alley, the space occupied being 20x60. A stairway will open in the center facing north, and on the west side will be a store room[*] 100 feet long. The second story plans are not yet complete, but will include several office rooms and probably one or more lodge rooms. They will be arranged to suit tenants who lease in advance. The contract will not be let as a whole; the probabilities are that a superintendent will be employed to oversee the work.

The bank people are to be congratulated on their enterprise, and the community on the distribution of a large sum in wages. The new building will be a credit to the town. It takes nerve to invest money in new buildings in these times, and we trust that our friends may have no delays and accidents with which to contend.

*[Store room was the term used then for the space occupied by a retail store.]


The First National Bank people are going to overhaul their old building and it will be occupied by our enterprising jeweler and music dealer, A. E. Matthews. A solid plate glass front will be put in and the interior artistically decorated. This will make Ed pleasant quarters which he hopes to occupy by November 15.


The New Bank Building.

The new First National Bank block is practically finished. It is a thing of beauty, a credit to the town and to the stockholders of the bank. It is handsome without, elegant within.

The building covers two lots, 45 feet front and 100 feet deep. It is 35 feet high, with fire proof gravel roof. The front is of stone and Omaha pressed brick, with handsome stone trimmings. The east side, on the alley, is also of Omaha pressed brick.

The bank rooms are on the east side and take up a space 20x60 feet. The entrance to the bank is on the northeast corner, and the exterior is very striking. The first room one enters is the office of the bank. The floor is covered with tiling of the basket pattern. The room is finished in cherry, while the bank counters are solid mahogany. A steel vault is built in the room. To the right of the street entrance is the president's office, and in the rear of the bank room is the directors' room, finished in oak. A toilet room opens into the latter apartment.

In the centre of the front is the stairway, and on the west side are the rooms which W. J. Summerwill will occupy next week with his stock of drugs. The main room is 25x75, with oak finish; shelving and counters also finished in oak. Back of the main room are two rooms for wall paper, paint, etc., covering 25x25; and Mr. Summerwill will also occupy the room on the east side, back of the directors' room, giving him 40x25 additional space. An elevator will be used to hoist goods from the cellar.

Two furnaces of the Monitor pattern, one for each side, will heat the first story. The cellar is under the entire building, and James Traver's barber shop occupies a space 18x18 in the northeast corner of the basement. The city mains will supply water to every occupant.

To the left of the landing is the office of Dr. W. N. Oursler. He occupies three rooms fronting on Second street and covering a space 25x25. These rooms are lighted by large windows and are conveniently arranged. Back of Dr. Oursler's offices are two rooms which will probably be used by several lodges in common. The smaller one is 12x12, the larger 20x60. At the head of the stairway is a skylight.

The bank people, Dr. Oursler and James Traver have moved into their new quarters; Mr. Summerwill expects to occupy his rooms next week, and the Masons will move as soon as they can furnish their apartments.

The building and fixtures complete represent an expenditure of $13,500, and the lots cost $2,500 more. The contract was let to W. J. Zittrell, of Lake View, a gentleman who has made many friends in Odebolt and added to his reputation by his work here. Despite unforseen delays in arrival of material, he managed to get the building done on time and at the same time have everything finished according to specifications. If Mr. Zittrell had erected no other building, the new bank block alone would be sufficient to establish his reputation. The carpenter work was sub-let to Mr. F. E. Bennett, of this city. He is a skillful and artistic workman, and can look with pride on the results of his efforts in this instance.

THE CHRONICLE heartily congratulates the First National Bank and the people of Odebolt on the completion of the handsomest building in Sac County.