Backstory and Context
Construction on the one-story building began in 1918 with the use of reinforced concrete (due to material shortages after the First World War). The F.O.E.'s motto, Liberty-Truth-Justice-Equality, was etched upon its upper entablature. Three more floors were added after a 1924 tornado. During the prohibition era, the lodge served as a speakeasy, and, it is rumored (due to a mysterious bullet hole in a wall), that gangster John Dillinger might have had an office in the basement. The first floor of the building was used for storefronts such as J.C. Penney, Hart Jewelry, Cane’s Surplus Store, Wear-U-Well Shoe Store, and Gorsage Restaurant. The upper floors included a bar, billiard rooms, administrative offices, and a dance hall.