The Oddfellows Hall/Sun Plaza on Beech Street, is the oldest commercial building in Fallbrook still standing.[1]   Built in 1882, the same year the railroad first arrived in the Santa Margarita Canyon, it is recognized by the Fallbrook Historical Society as a Fallbrook landmark.    It was erected as a livery stable and blacksmith’s shop, the stable doors at the west end of the building swung open onto Pico Road, the old road going through Fallbrook at the time.  Today this is the end that faces Pico Promenade.  Pico Road ran North/South coming from the railroad depot on the Santa Margarita River going through the new town, past the large ranchos, Santa Margarita and Monserrate, on its way towards the San Luis Rey River to meet the East/West Pala Road.[2]

Odd Fellows Hall 2020

Originally known as Abbot’s Hall, it was named for three brothers, Edward, William, and George Abbott, 3 homesteaders who were among the first settlers of the area.  They each homesteaded their own parcels of land adjoining each other.  Edward and William Abbott were civil war veterans.  Edward had been at the battle of Shiloh.  William’s regiment had been hit by disease during the war and William may have been in poor health the rest of his life.  George Clarence Abbott quickly followed his older brothers, arriving in West Fallbrook in 1882 at the age of 24.  George, the youngest, worked as a blacksmith in their livery stable.  George married Rachel I. Hickox in Fallbrook in 1887.

The Abbott brothers built the livery stable on William’s property.  The brick and timber they used was brought from San Diego by the railroad, and hauled up by wagon from the depot.  The 2nd floor of Abbott’s building may have been conceived as living quarters, but it soon evolved into a meeting hall, becoming a hub of social activity in West Fallbrook.

As town lots of West Fallbrook were being laid out and sold in 1885, the Methodist Episcopal South congregation met at Abbott’s Hall while awaiting completion of their church.[3]  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fraternal lodges were popular.  The Good Templars began meeting weekly at Abbott’s Hall in 1885.[4]  George Abbott became a leader of the Good Templars.  George Abbott also became a member of the Odd Fellows when the Fallbrook Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) Lodge #339 was organized in 1888.[5]  However, in 1888, F.W. Bartlett and his partner W.M. Scott built the new 50 room Francis E. Willard hotel across Pico Rd, so carriage traffic came straight to the hotel, or diverted to the Main Ave business district to go around.  Livery stable business shifted over to the Watkins livery stable on Alvarado.  Within a couple years the Abbot brothers sold their Fallbrook properties, including the building, and relocated to Santa Ana in Orange County where other members of the Abbott extended family had settled.

Abbotts Hall would stand unoccupied from 1890 until 1902 when the Trustees for Odd Fellows Fallbrook Lodge #339 bought the building for themselves for $450.[6]  Once more becoming a center of Fallbrook social activity, the old brick hall, as it was often called, hosted dances and club meetings.  In addition to the Odd Fellows and their female auxiliary the Rebekahs, the Fallbrook Grange regularly met at this location for many years beginning in 1935[7].  The hall was often used for other community meetings.  The I.O.O.F. sold the building in 1975 and began meeting in the social hall of the First Christian Church for about a year before moving all their meetings to the Masonic Hall.[8]    In 1988, the building was renovated, but it still retains much of its original appearance.  The building is still in use in 2020, with offices leased to various businesses.

Tom Frew,

    [1] Fallbrook Historic Resources Inventory, September 1991, Susan H. Carrico & S. Kathleen Flanigan

    [2] The History of Pico Avenue, The Historian, summer 2019 Fallbrook Historical Society

    [3] The San Diego Union April 1885

    [4] The Fallbrook Review August 20, 1885

    [5]  Odd Fellows in Fallbrook  by Elizabeth Yamaguchi Fallbrook Historical Society April 27, 1999.  The first Odd Fellows Minutes Book covered 1888-1893

    [6] San Diego Union reported on October 3, 1902 that “the brick building owned by Stephan and Frank Townsend since 1890 has stood unoccupied in the lower part of town for the past 12 years has often been referred to as the ‘old brick’ and people have believed it unsafe.  The Odd Fellows found they could transform it into a valuable meeting hall.

    [7] The Fallbrook Enterprise September 13, 1935.

    [8] Olive Rebekah Lodge letter dated 25 June 1985 by Iva McGaugh, Recording Secretary.  Letter on file at Fallbrook Historical Society.  It is not said who they sold the building to.  In 1991, it was owned by Herr Development Inc.