Historic lodges face uncertain future

Historic fraternal lodges in Jennings County and Shelbyville are some of the most endangered historic places in the state, according to a preservation group.

Indiana Landmarks released its top 10 list of endangered sites this week. The preservation group prepares the list each year, saying that the sites feature a combination of problems. Those can be abandonment and neglect, or simply owners who don’t have the funds to make repairs to the aging structures. The efforts have led to 101 of the 153 buildings on the list since it started in 1991 being rehabilitated.

At the top of this year’s list is a batch of historic lodges around the state, including ones in Vernon, North Vernon and Shelbyville. The fraternal organizations are seeing steep declines in membership, frequently leading the groups to disband, leaving behind their former lodges.

The 1860 Masonic Building in Vernon is on the northwest corner of the town square. Its first floor is occupied by the U.S. Post Office but the upper floors remain vacant. The International Order of Odd Fellows lodge on Pike Street is also abandoned and has been condemned. In North Vernon, the lodge of the Improved Order of Red Men is in an 1899 building suffering from long-delayed maintenance.

The group also noted the Knights of Pythias Lodge on the Shelbyville Town Square as being mostly vacant and in need of rehabilitation.

You can find out more about these sites at https://www.indianalandmarks.org/endangered-property/historic-fraternal-lodges/

Photo of Historic IOOF Lodge in Vernon courtesy of Indiana Landmarks.