Built Heritage: Somers Pride of India Lodge
BUILT HERITAGE: April 2021 By Linda Abend and Margie Lloyd, Bermuda National Trust
This post is part of a series of architectural articles by the Bermuda National Trust that highlight some of Bermuda’s endangered historic buildings.
Somers Pride of India Lodge No. 899 in St George’s was the first of the lodges established by the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows when it was founded on 10 May 1848 with schoolmaster John Gilbert Allen as secretary and later Grand Master. Alexandrina Lodge No. 1026 in Hamilton and Victoria and Albert No. 1027 in Somerset followed. By 1860 the three lodges had over 200 members.
In April 1850 the trustees of Somers Pride of India Lodge, all of whom were residents of St George’s, purchased land on Cut Road from mason Peter Tucker. It wasn’t until 14 January 1862 that, with much pomp and ceremony, the cornerstone was laid for their first hall. A gale in October 1870 blew down the upper walls of both sides of their not-yet-completed hall but did not discourage them. The Odd Fellows celebrated their 25th anniversary in May 1873 with a service and procession to their new building where the foreman of the Building Committee, John Cornelius Bascome, gave the welcoming address.
The rapidly growing membership saw the need for a larger building and in 1903 a more prominent parcel of land was purchased. The Somers Pride of India Lodge Trustees Act 1909 allowed the trustees to sell their building on Cut Road and on 13 November 1913 at what was described as “one of the greatest ceremonies of its kind” the cornerstone was laid for their new lodge building on York Street and St George’s Avenue (now Wellington Street and Rose Hill). Work parties were held with bus loads of members from sister lodges across the Island arriving to help with the construction.