Sundae Horn
Odd Fellows Save Lodge

Island Inn's partial demolition is phase one of the Odd Fellows Lodge restoration.

Both wings of the building will be removed, but the central, oldest part of the structure will be saved and restored by Ocracoke Preservation Society (OPS).

Darren Burrus started demo work on July 16, and drew a crowd of spectators, including odd fellows Tom Pahl and Ken DeBarth, who have been instrumental in the preservation project. Tom is an original member of the Island Inn ad hoc committee that sought to purchase and save the historic structure, and Ken is the president of OPS, which took up the challenge. OPS purchased the Island Inn on May 7, 2018 in order the restore the c. 1901 Odd Fellows Lodge underneath the many motel additions. 

On July 5th, OPS held a donation yard sale at the Island Inn which raised over $1700 for the restoration project. Curious island peeps and visitors were invited to wander inside and carry out anything they found of worth to them. Ken told me that several people left in tears, sad to see what the once-proud Island Inn had become. 

Odd Fellows Save Lodge

The mighty prehistoric jaws of Darren's excavator tear into the walls and reduce them to rubble. Sad, humbling, historic – it's the end of an era. Change is hard. 

But it's also exciting to know what comes next. 

"After the demolition, we'll secure the historic part of the building, the part that was the Odd Fellows Lodge," said Ken. "Then it will stay that way while we do a major fundraising effort for the restoration."

The Odd Fellows Lodge will eventually become a visitor center for Ocracoke, and provide office space for local non-profits. 

"Around the lodge will be mostly green space, called Odd Fellows Park," Ken explained. "With picnic tables and off-street parking and restrooms."

Ahhh, yes, restrooms! There will be public potties with – get this – FLUSH toilets!

Odd Fellows Save Lodge

Indeed, plans are already in motion to have the restrooms sooner rather than later. OPS has appealed to the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board (OTB), which has a fund surplus they need to spend. For a mere $150,000, Ocracoke could have public johns by summer 2019! If they get an OT grant, OPS plans to build a separate small building to house the new restrooms, and will complete that project long before the Odd Fellows Lodge gets restored. Despite, or perhaps because of, having processed the waste from a hotel and restaurant, the Island Inn's septic system needs to be replaced. OPS estimates the new septic field will cost $40,000-$50,000 and they need another $80,000-$90,000 to build the building. Then there's the ongoing expense of cleaning and maintaining the restrooms.... but it will all be worth it!

"This is a priority for Ocracoke's needs," Ken said at the OTB meeting on June 6th. "OPS doesn't want to be in the business of managing restrooms, but we can offer a piece of land big enough. It's an unexpected opportunity for the community to improve visitor experience."

The original Odd Fellows Lodge
The original Odd Fellows Lodge

The OT board will meet again in September to decide how to spend their extra cash, so we'll have to hold it for awhile longer before we know if relief is in sight. 

Meanwhile, OPS will start sniffing out money for the Odd Fellows Lodge restoration.

“We are glad to become stewards of this historic property,” Ken was quoted in an early OPS press release. “We have a lot of work to do. We need to find funds to do all the things we plan. We are looking for grants and other sources. This is a several year project, and we are excited to take it on.”