The fourth floor was added on top of the existing building in 1922, one year before there was such thing as building codes. These stairs we’re added in 1953 and intended as the second exit from the rear of the top floor.
These stairs aren’t considered safe as a fire exit by current standards because they open into another room instead of being continuously protected from smoke all the way to the outside. Our dining hall has been red-tagged because of this building design flaw.
We also have a rear fire escape, but it is in poor condition, and it doesn’t have enough capacity to carry 150 people in a hurry (half of the calculated dining hall capacity). There is no point in repairing it because it won’t count toward removal of the dining hall red-tag. Our options are to either re-route the back stairs or to add a 4′ wide metal staircase to the outside of the building. Both options are expensive.
This issue is extremely problematic for our ability to use the building.
From a Facebook post dated Tuesday, August 6, 2013:
We are the Vallejo Odd Fellows of San Pablo Lodge #43 in the heart of downtown Vallejo. Our lodge has been an integral part of this community for 160 years.
Vallejo grew up around our lodge–the fate of this city and our lodge have always been intertwined. Since the Naval base closure in 1996 and the Great Recession, both our city and our Lodge have fallen on hard times.
We have a plan to change that.
A group of Odd Fellows, artists, and community members have come together to create an art center right at the heart of downtown Vallejo in the long-empty storefront of the Odd Fellows lodge. Traditionally, Odd Fellows lodges support their community service work by renting out the ground floor retail space of their lodges in the booming center of the towns they serve. This model worked for the Vallejo lodge for nearly 150 years but since the 1990’s, downtown Vallejo has slowly turned into a near-ghost town, with empty storefronts lining what was once the booming main street of Vallejo. We need to bring business and life back to downtown.