The village of Amelia lost a piece of it’s rich history with the demolition of the old village hall/Masonic Building Nov. 30.
Amelia residents Roberta and Claude Dodson, who have owned the building and the property since 1985, decided to level the historic structure due to its unsafe and deteriorating condition.
“It was just getting old,” said Claude Dodson. “The deterioration of the building was making it unsafe. We understand and appreciate the historical significance of the structure, but we felt that the time had come to bring it down.”
According to official county historian Richard Crawford, the building’s history started in the 1850′s when it was constructed by Knights of Pythias fraternal organization.
From 1916-1931, the building served as Amelia High School's graduation hall, high school gymnasium, and auditorium. It was also a secret meeting place for secret societies and secret orders, performances of minstrels, burlesque, and a silent and sound motion picture theater (known as the Playtime Theater, the name was changed to the Amelia Theater in 1941), according to Crawford.
The building was the site of dinners and social gatherings (the Clermont County Farmer's Institute held its first gathering there in 1885 and were held annually until 1956), first through sixth grade was taught there for a while, and it served as a munitions factory during World War II.
The building was purchased in 1904 to house the International Order of Odd Fellows, a humanitarian order. The Amelia Masonic Lodge #590, which was organized here in 1858 and chartered in 1859, bought the building in in the 1950's.
Located at 41 West Main Street, directly across from the current Municipal Hall, the Masonic building has a history that Crawford is sorry to see has now come to an end.
"It is a shame that future generations will be unable to see that building and share in the unique and interesting history that it provided for the residents of Amelia and the county," he said.
Robert Groh, the president of the Amelia Historical Society (and Amelia mayor from years 1950-1953, 1956-1957, 1984-1995), agrees.
"It was a sad day," he said. "I have lived here for 82 years and the memories that I made in that building are very special to me. I was sorry to see the building go."