In 1841, the local lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows acquired the property located today at 218 North Columbus St. The lodge, identified as No. 8, was initially chartered in 1839 as the eighth to be formed in the District of Columbia. Following Alexandria’s retrocession to Virginia in 1847, the lodge was designated Potomac Lodge No. 38.
Soon after purchasing the North Columbus Street property, the lodge remodeled and expanded the existing building, which had previously served as a school and place of worship. Following renovations, the Odd Fellows Hall was described in 1846 as a two-story brick building covered with wood and measuring 33 feet by 60 feet.
Before the Civil War, the Mount Vernon Guards, a local militia unit, held meetings there. During the war the hall was used as a military prison. Union troops held prisoners there, most of whom were civilians from nearby counties. Following the war, St. John’s Academy, a school for boys, used the first floor of the hall through the early 1880s.
The hall was expanded again in the late 1880s with the addition of a new front faade and tower. Many organizations used the hall for meetings and special events, including Confederate veterans, International Association of Machinists and Sons and Daughters of Liberty. In the 1940s, it served as a polling place for the War Price and Rationing Board, and in the 1950s a dance school operated there.
A small concrete annex, visible in this image, was added during the winter of 1961-62 but it was later demolished after Potomac Lodge No. 38 sold the entire property to developers in 1977. In 1979, Muirs Court Corporation subdivided it into town homes, which stand today.
Out of the Attic is provided by the Office of Historic Alexandria.