Manchester's restored Odd Fellows Hall finds new life
The restored woodwork is impressive to see during Thursday's open house for the Community Resource Center at the renovated Odd Fellows Hall on Lake Avenue in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
It was the building's official "open house," after a $3.4 million city renovation transformed it into a resource center for immigrants and the needy. The building first opened in the spring, but only recently has been fully occupied.
"I think it's so important to bring all the community agencies together," said Renie Denton, the MCRC's executive director.
The four-story building is at once state-of-the-art — with glass doors, a computer lab, an open reception area — and filled with original fixtures, such as mahogany beams, wainscotting, and a sliver-embossed tree design on the wall of the fourth-floor ballroom. Many of the details were intact, but sealed behind walls and drop ceilings.
"This brings the community together," Mayor Ted Gatsas said. "This shows that collaboration in funding projects works."
"I think it's wonderful," Shea said. "To see the enthusiasm of the neighborhood, and we're keeping in focus a building that didn't have to be demolished."
Denton, the MCRC director, said she felt the building manifested the spirit of the Odd Fellows, the venerable fraternal organization dedicated to doing altruistic work.
One of the people on hand for the event was Edward Russell, a longtime member of the Odd Fellows who remembered well when the building served as the group's lodge.
He said he was proud to see groups dedicated to helping others as the new tenants. "They're doing exactly what we did — helping the underprivileged," Russell said.
"Ninety percent of the people we help live around this area," he said. "They like the environment of the building, and we can refer people to other agencies."
Federal grants, private donations, tax credit financing and unused bond proceeds were used to pay for the project. The Concord construction firm Milestone did the work in about six months, a short time of completion that was noted by many at Thursday's event. firstname.lastname@example.org
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