Boyertown's Independent Order of Odd Fellows members recently rejected a bid for their building on East Philadelphia Avenue.Alton Schmoyer, one of three trustees overseeing the sale, called the proposal "too low."

Declining club membership has made the three-story building a financial burden, Schmoyer said.

The 18,000-square-foot structure is listed by Zuber Realty at $449,900.

Lower-level spaces are occupied by the Grill Shop, the United Way of Boyertown Area and a party supply store. Upper levels include seven residential apartments.

"We're looking for a viable offer," Schmoyer said.

Brian Gilbert, the real estate agent attempting to broker a deal, points to the building's high ceilings and original woodwork as key selling points.

"It's a huge building," he said.

According to the Zuber website, the building has 2,800 square feet of retail space as well as two banquet halls. It has been assessed at $442,740.

Since listing the property sixth months ago, Gilbert has fielded more than 50 inquiries.

"A lot of people are curious about the property's history," he said.

Gilbert has shown the property to more than a dozen potential buyers and received one written and one verbal offer.

He expects to find a buyer who has an appreciation for the building's historical value.

"This property needs a person who appreciates its character and is willing to put that ahead of the bottom line," Gilbert said.

Founded locally in 1903, Boyertown's Chapter 708 funded construction of the building in 1925.

Schmoyer said the organization's membership grew to about 200 in the 1950s and '60s.

Only 20 members are currently enrolled. Between eight and 10 attend a weekly meeting in the third-floor lodge hall.

Despite dwindling numbers, the local Odd Fellows sponsor a department chairman at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia and spend $1,300 annually to send one student from Boyertown Area Senior High School on a 10-day drip to the United Nations.

Thomas Wildey and four other men founded the first North Amercian chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Baltimore on April 26, 1819.

The organization's mission is "to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan."

Contact reporter Bradley Schlegel at 610-367-6041, ext. 240 or bschlegel @berksmontnews.com

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