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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: M. Larew, 1979
Odd Fellow's Lodge
Inventory No.: HA-238
Other Name(s): First Presbyterian Church
Date Listed: 8/22/1975
Location: 21 E. Pennsylvania Avenue , Bel Air, Harford County
Category: Structure
Period/Date of Construction: 1852
Description: The original First Presbyterian Church of Bel Air, now the Odd Fellows Lodge, is a Greek temple of the Doric order, with a four column portico rendered in wood on its principal façade, facing north on Pennsylvania Avenue. Four bays, of brick laid in common bond, form the hall or former sanctuary behind the portico, reminiscent of the single space or naos of a Greek temple. The whole temple form here is above a high basement or ground story. The portico is slightly narrower than the brick structure, the resulting offset terminating the entablature of the portico. Conspicuously absent from the frieze are the triglyphs of the Greek Doric order; they may have been omitted on this structure as an economy measure, or they may have been removed in a simplifying repair. The cornice above the brick walls consists of several courses of corbeled brick. Of the four windows on either side, only those in the northerly bay (closest to the street) remain their original length, and retain, in all probability, their original 12/12 sash. Examination of the brickwork reveals that all other windows have had their sills raised about three feet, necessitating the installation of shorter sash, the upper ones divided into diamond-shaped panes. Another detail of later remodeling is the generous roof overhang along the east and west sides, with exposed rafter ends. A joint may be seen in the crown moulding the portico. Further suggesting that this overhang is a later addition. The principal entrance is within the portico, and is enframed in a simplified Greek motif of pilasters supporting an entablature. The double, paneled doors are probably the originals. An entrance to the ground story is beyond an arch in the portico foundation, directly under the principal entrance. Significance: The original First Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, now the Odd Fellows Lodge, is the only structure in Harford County which positively can be placed in the mainstream of the Greek Revival style. The inevitable and unquestionable detail which places a structure in the "mainstream" of the Greek Revival is a Greek temple form of portico exhibiting a carefully rendered Greek order; the portico may be a small porch sheltering a single door, or it may be the entire façade and form of a structure. But the structure discussed here, built in 1852, is wholly of a temple form. Harford County was experiencing a rapid growth and development in the Greek Revival period of 1820-1860. Many of the first houses erected in the area were replaced by wealthier second and third generation owners with larger more substantial houses, but surprisingly the newer houses were, as a group, unusually traditional, albeit larger and more substantial than most of the earlier dwellings. Perhaps this traditionalism was typical of established regions, whereas the structures erected in the more recently settled areas such as western New York, Ohio, and in the deep south states of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, exhibited the more dynamic and progressive new forms. This structure has had two tenants in its life. The First Presbyterian Church built a Gothic revival structure a few blocks north in 1881, and it subsequently leased the original property to the Odd Fellows Lodge.

 

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