THE PYTHIAN BUILDING
Let’s start off with the history of the Order of Knights of the Pythias.
The international fraternity of the Order of the Knights
Of the Pythias was founded in Washington D.C. by Justus
H. Rathbone February 19,1864. The principals of the Order are
Friendship,Charity and Benevolence. Members are dedicated to the promotion of understanding among men of good will as the surest means of attaining Universal peace.
The local organization Lancelot Lodge # 13 was chartered in 1873. In 1888 the lodge purchased the lot on the corner of
Main and Liberty and the two adjacent lots. In 1889 they constructed the 4 story building known as the Pythian Castle and Opera House. The building had a turret in the northwest corner. Some of the first members were W.P. Robertson, A.W. Campbell, A.W. Anderson and W.F. Alexander
The local organization Lancelot Lodge # 13 was chartered in 1873. In 1888 the lodge purchased the lot on the corner of Main and Liberty and the two adjacent lots.
In 1889 they constructed the 4 story building known as the Pythian Castle and Opera House. The building had a turret in the northwest corner. Some of the first members were W.P. Robertson, A.W. Campbell, A.W. Anderson and W.F. Alexander.
The Opera House which was located on the first floor (Liberty side) was the site of many a “high opera” performance . Opera companies would stop in Jackson between Memphis and Nashville . The ladies of Jackson loved attending the performances this was “high society” for them. Some of the tenants in the Pythian building were Second National Bank, W.S.Moore and Alf Bensinger Insurance Co. and in the basement the Pythian Barber Shop.
Early on that February morning of 1901 the fire bell sounded.
Men came from all over town to help put out the fire that destroyed the turret ,the fourth floor and caused damage to the entire building. Soon they started reconstruction but they did not replace the fourth floor or turret. The third floor was now the Pythian lodge gone was the Opera House.
Since Second National Bank vault was in the basement the board voted to expand and move back in the building . They moved out of the Pythian in 1970’s.
There were various tenants including dentists, physicians and attorneys the building was standing proud.
I moved into my office in the Pythian in the late 90’s that’s when I started doing research on the Pythians.
I remember interviewing Mr. Robert Tillman who was a member of Lancelot Lodge. His father was a member so naturally he was a Pythian. He told me there were only 10 members that attended the meetings that were held on the first and Thursday night now now.He laughed as he told me “all of us are over 70 .Then he told me the best pool player was 87. He remembered the large dinners and oyster stews they had in the dining hall. When Second National needed more space. The lodge voted to reduce the size of the lodge’s Dining area and put up walls to rent the space. He told me it was about this time that they added the pool tables.They would have Pool tournaments, since many of the tenants were Pythians they were known to come up during their lunch hour and play pool. He said at one time they had a cook who worked the lunch hour and occasional dinner. Locals were welcomed to lunch for a fee. He laughed and seemed to go back into his memories after awhile we said good bye. Before he left he reminded me that though they are few in number they still donated money to the various charities around the county
When I rented my office the Jackson Center group had purchased it from the Knight of the Pythias. Clark Shaw was part of the group that purchased the building. Clark’s father and my Grandfather English were friends so I knew Clark forever. He would come up to the office and we talked for awhile. Interesting talks to say the least. Have you heard the phrase “poplar opposite” but I respected his point of view.
The Jackson Center sold the building to John Allen. About 5 years ago I retired and left my office and the building behind.
I heard John sold the Pythian but do not know the details.
I hope the new owner enjoys being in this great lady as much as I did.
Note: yes, there several Ghosts that call the Pythian home we will get into that later…