An Odd History

An Odd History

Apr 06, 2022Lydia Miller

Is anybody else ready for some exciting news? Yeah, us too, but we're still waiting. Le sigh. Here's hoping things get approved soon!

Until there are tangible updates to share, we thought it would be fun to dive deeper into the building's history. What we learned ended up being a pretty fun surprise #41. If you follow Walnut and Twine on Facebook or Instagram, this week's #mercantilemood already hinted at our focus - the engraved marker on the front of the building.

While not immediately noticeable when looking at the front facade, the square in the upper center of the building does add a unique element to the Mercantile that we previously hadn't fully appreciated.

The center features the town name: Harrisburg, but the other aspects took more time to figure out. The central letters I.O.O.F. stand for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows - a fraternal organization founded in the United States in 1819 (although not officially recognized as a charter of the original group in England until 1826). While there's debate about where the name "Odd Fellows" came from, we're partial to the explanation that it originated as tradesmen of odd jobs who banded together to create their own group (since they didn't have the numbers necessary for a traditional union or guild). This idea fits perfectly with our plan for the Mercantile, where the goods and products available will be from various makers and artisans. 

The top of the engraving shows three intertwined links surrounded by the letters "F," "L," and "T." Apparently, the links serve as a symbol of the organization and its motto, "Friendship, Love, and Truth" (hence the letters surrounding them). By having this marker on the building, people knew the upstairs served as the meeting place for the local order of Odd Fellows. And while there's no longer a Harrisburg group of Odd Fellows meeting at the Mercantile, it's quite lovely to know the building has always been the focus of friendship, love, and truth in the community.

Here's a sampling of other buildings with their I.O.O.F. markers:

(If you're interested in learning more about this historical order, we gathered our information from their website )

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