Author Sally Jadlow joins us today to share her personal connection to the Odd Fellows Home in Liberty, Missouri. Sally writes carefully researched historical fiction set in Oklahoma and Missouri.
I had heard of The Odd Fellows Home in Liberty all my life, but I hadn’t visited until a couple of years ago. I went to conduct research for the third book of The Late Sooner series—Hard Times in the Heartland. My uncle lived there for about five years during the Depression after his parents died.
Around 1900, the Odd Fellows built a home for orphans of fellow members. In its heyday several buildings and barns sat on 120 acres about a mile south of Liberty. Over the years it has served many purposes.
During the Depression the home provided a shelter for entire families. They camped out on the grounds in tents because they had lost their homes in those hard times. These residents helped the orphans work the fields and tend the livestock in exchange for food.
Later, it served as a residence for German POWs during WW II. When the POWs were gone, one of the buildings became a nursing home.
Today, the main building serves as an outlet for the Belvoir Winery and a venue for weddings, receptions, and special parties.
The current owners are in the process of restoring it to a grand appearance. They have taken beautiful pieces from the salvage of other old buildings and repurposed them. A brides’ dressing room contains a gorgeous old fireplace.
The room directly at the top of the entry stairs is now a bar. That room was originally used for orphans to meet their new families Now it is graced with exquisite leaded glass panels across the front.
The small sleeping rooms which used to house children have now become large party rooms—one even has an ice cream/soda fountain like ones found in drug stores long ago.
There is one room on the first floor that borders on the macabre. It contains a long, skinny box with a skeleton inside. In the days of Odd Fellows Lodges, each meeting place contained a skeleton to remind the members of their mortality. What good they could do should be done today, since no one is assured of tomorrow. That space also contains drawings recovered when they tore out walls—drawings stuffed in the woodwork by some nameless resident. They also have collected an assortment of small toys and random artifacts left behind.
There are some tales of ghosts in the place, although the two times I visited, I had no encounters. It’s a short half-hour drive from southern Kansas City up I-35 North and well worth the time to visit.
Sally Jadlow serves as a chaplain to corporations in the Kansas City area, teaches creative writing, and enjoys 14 grandchildren. She writes historical fiction, devotionals, true miracle stories, and poetry. Learn more about her wonderful books on her Amazon author page.