BUILT HERITAGE | Victoria and Albert Lodge No. 1027 G.U.O. of O.F., 84 Somerset Road | AUGUST 2022
By Linda Abend and Margie Lloyd, Bermuda National Trust
This is part of a series of architectural articles by the Bermuda National Trust that will highlight some of Bermuda’s endangered historic buildings.
The Grand United Order of Oddfellows was founded in Bermuda in 1848 when a lodge building was built in St George’s called Somers Pride of India Lodge No. 899. Brother lodges, Alexandrina Lodge No. 1026 in Hamilton and Victoria and Albert Lodge No. 1027 in Somerset, were formed in 1852. The members of Victoria and Albert Lodge met on the first and third Fridays of each month at an unknown Ely’s Harbour location.
In 1896 William Alexander Swan, Henry Thomas Cann, Henry Anderson Simmons, John Saunders Wilson and Albert Smith Gilbert, as Trustees of Victoria and Albert Lodge No. 1027 Grand United Order of Oddfellows, purchased land near St James Church for £160 from tavern keeper Albert James Williamson. On 24th May 1899 the steamer Syren was chartered to convey passengers to Somerset for the laying of the corner stone of the new lodge building.
What was called ‘The Great Hurricane’ hit Bermuda on September 12th/13th, 1899. The Royal Gazette reported on the island-wide damage. “The premier wreck is that of the new Lodge of Oddfellows, the corner stone of which was laid with so much eclât on 24th May last. The building was right up to the wall plate, and is a structure of 69 ft x 34 ft. The whole has been razed to the ground and presents a sad, sad picture. We found a few workmen around the building, completely down-hearted over the loss, and who can refrain from sympathizing with them in this rude put-back to their hard endeavours? It is estimated at £500 to place the building in its former stage. The work had progressed very rapidly; “too rapidly”, as a very prominent official informed us, and perhaps the rawness of the as-yet unplastered stones had much to do with the slight resistance against the hurricane. The work is likely to come to an indefinite standstill, as the society’s funds are not proof against so serious a loss.”