Northfield in History: 1905 Oddfellows Group
The State Oddfellows home was built in 1899. This photograph shows the residents in 1905.
The Minnesota State Odd Fellows Home was built in 1899 and is now known as the Three Links Care Center.
Shown here is the original building with its residents circa 1905. The building was razed in 1974 because it could no longer meet safety codes. The cornerstone for the building was laid on June 16, 1899, and the building was finished a year later, opening on June 15, 1900. Northfield beat Winona, Minneapolis, Montevideo and Owatonna to be the site of the new Odd Fellows Hall.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is the American branch of the Oddfellows, an organization that was founded in England by laborers to provide help for the families of the members. The first Lodge in Minnesota was established in Stillwater in 1849.
In 1881, following the example of the Pennsylvania Odd Fellows group, the Minnesota Odd Fellows decided to build a home for the aged, the widows, and the orphans of members. Northfield won the race for this home with the purchase of the 120-acre Josiah Nutting farm.
The building was designed in the Dutch-Flemist Revival style by Harry Wild Jones of Minneapolis. He also designed the Egyptian Revival styled State Bank of Northfield. The original layout was a home for the elderly, an orphanage, with a hospital building in between, symbolizing the three links of the Odd Fellows: friendship, love, and truth.
The population of the complex peaked at around 100 in 1920.
The Odd Fellows Home was not a charity, however. Each resident was sponsored by an Odd Fellow who paid a small fee. Not all children at the Home were orphans, either. Some came from families that had too many kids to support, and so were sent to the Home for proper care. The children who lived in the Home attended the local public schools, helped out on neighboring farms, and sometimes got to take trips with local families.
As the government began to implement social programs for children, the number of kids at the Odd Fellows Home slowly dwindled, ceasing in the 1950s. After the 1950s, the complex became a retirement community, the form in which it exists today.
Emery, Ariel. “Home for All Ages.” Northfield News. 21-22 March 2009.
Hvistendahl, Susan. “Historical Happenings: Odd Fellows/ Three Links mark 110th anniversary in Northfield: A look back.” Northfield Style. May 2008.