A Piece Of Palestine’s History Partially Collapses
Palestine- Just before noon on Tuesday, October 18, Downtown Palestine rumbled and shook as the nearly century-old Ivanhoe No. 15 partially collapsed. It wasn’t long before the Palestine police were getting calls as a cloud of heavy dust started to settle. Some thought there had been an explosion. Others thought a nearby train had derailed. Rather, the tallest building in Downtown had partially collapsed after 98 years.
Built in 1913, the Ivanhoe, located at the corner of East Oak and Houston streets, served as the organizational meeting place for the Knights of Pythias. Members were dedicated the “cause of universal peace.” The Knights of Pythias, a charitable, international, benevolent, fraternal order, was established in Texas with the installation of Lodge No. 1 in Houston on March 22, 1872. Other lodges followed in quick succession.
On April 30, 1895, the Knights of Pythias was granted a charter by the state. The zenith in number of lodges was attained in 1910 with 378, and in number of members in 1922 with 30,507. In 1942 there were 105 lodges with 9,553 members. Since 1909 the organization has maintained the Pythian Widows and Orphans Home, three miles east of Weatherford.
The Knights of Pythias conducted their meetings on the top floor. The top floor was encompassed by a stage where members sat. The walls were filled with compartments and walk ways. It was not hard to imagine the magnificent building in its prime nor was it hard to imagine the secret meetings which took place in the tallest building in Downtown Palestine.
Although the Ivanhoe has not hosted the Knights of Pythias for quite some time, and the top two floors have been closed off for years and years, the building has hosted several businesses throughout the years on the ground level floor. Until about a month ago there was an insurance company and watch repair business in the bottom floor of the building. In years past the Ivanhoe has hosted a furniture manufacturer, a garment factory, food pantry, and computer repair shop.
The historic Ivanhoe has been called the pinnacle building of Palestine, as it has remained close to its original structural design.
City leaders are assessing options for the historical building after it partially collapsed Tuesday. Authorities found the roof had collapsed in on the top floor, causing the fourth floor to fall into the third floor. Officials have not yet determined the exact cause of the collapse, although the theory is that water pooled on the roof from recent rains.
Several Downtown businesses were without power after the collapse due to downed power lines connected to the main power source. No injuries were reported in the collapse.
Many Palestine residents were deeply saddened by the collapse of the Ivanhoe and are hoping the building will be restored.