Nothing odd about preserving the past

By: Bob Magnetti The Press-Tribune
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It is a tale of two stories. The Odd Fellows Hall in Historic Old Town, a two-story brick building, is actually one building built on top of another, said Roseville historian Phoebe Astill. Astill, the curator at the Carnegie Library Museum and a member of pioneer families who settled the area before there was a Roseville, has longtime ties to the Odd Fellows. “The Odd Fellows came to town in 1872,” Astill said. “They met in the Pratt/Sawtell building on Lincoln Street, located at 112 Pacific St.” Astill’s mother, Viola Wendt, was the bookkeeper for the Odd Fellows cemetery and her father Erwin Wendt and uncle Frances Astill were gravediggers. The cemetery was owned by the fraternal organization. “J.D. Pratt was a charter member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Chapter 203 of Roseville,” Astill said. “In 1878, he decided to build a one-story building on Pacific Street. Pratt owned a brick-making company along Dry Creek,” she said. The Odd Fellows were looking for a new place to meet and Pratt sold the organization the air space above his building. “They built their one-story building on top (of the new Pratt building),” Astill said. “It had a separate outside entrance.” The Odd Fellows stayed there until 1942, when they purchased the building on Main Street, which housed the Women’s Improvement Club and is currently called the Polish American Hall. In 1988, the Odd Fellows moved to a site at Washington Boulevard and Pleasant Street. The old Pacific Street building, which housed the Odd Fellows for so many years now stands empty, Astill said. The building has survived major fires, including one in 1911 that left the structure standing alone in the area. Since then, no wooden structures have been built in Old Town. However plans are currently in the works to renovate the structure, according to Mark Wolinsky, project manager for the $10.4 million Historic Old Town Streetscape/Infrastructure Improvement Project. Owner Mike Rapport, who owns and has renovated several properties in Old Town, has big plans for the site, including a lounge/night club, restaurant and Rapport envisions the building as a “kind of entertainment complex.” “We want it to be the entertainment complex for the Sacramento Valley used for big events.” he said, “Plans are to enlarge the capacity from its current 4,200 square feet to about 11,500 square feet. Structural engineer Carl Schubert. said that both floors of the two-story structure will be utilized, as well as the rooftop. The building, when completed, will seat about 1,000 people. Funds for the project will come from the Roseville Redevelopment Agency, said Rapport, and a full structural update will be submitted to the city in about three weeks. “We already have a major tenant lined up, Bob Simpson, the entertainment guru of the Sacramento Valley,” said Rapport. In addition to being an entertainment complex, the project is about preserving Roseville history. “It’s something that’s important; it’s something that needs to be done,” Rapport said.