STANDING PROUD: The Knights
of Pythias building has been an important part of life in Old Town Tustin
since it was built in 1 925. The C. E. Utt family home occupied the corner
prior to that time
Tustin had three
fraternal organizations back in the 1880s: the
Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the I.O.G.F.,
and the Order of the Knights of Pythias. Only
the K of P, which was chartered in 1882, still
the Order of Knights of Pythias, an
international, nonsectarian fraternal order was
founded in Washington D.C. on Feb. 18, 1864, by
Justus T. Rathbone.
fraternal order to be chartered by an Act of
Congress, it aimed to heal the wounds between
the North and South and promote friendship among
men and relieve suffering. Tustin Lodge No. 85
is one of more than 2,000 in the United States
The Tustin lodge
met for many years in rooms on the second floor
of the First National Bank of Tustin building.
Then in 1925 they bought the property on the
northeast corner of Main and D (El Camino Real)
from C. E. Utt and had a two-story neoclassical
commercial building constructed. Their lodge
hall and offices occupy the entire second floor
with the lower level available for shops,
offices and businesses.
The Knight of
Pythias building has housed many tenants
including Tustin’s first City Hall from 1927 to
1949 and the Tustin Post Office, 1930 to 1949.
Tustin Variety Store and Tustin Drug Store were
longtime occupants on the D Street side of the
Tustin Shoe Shop
and Tustin Radio Shop were tenants on the south
side facing Main. Present occupants include the
Tustin Area Museum, Tustin Chamber of Commerce
and I Initial.
As an adjunct to the lodge, Pythian Sisters,
Tustin Temple 27, was chartered in 1923.
Approximately 50 wives of members joined this
group. Knights of Pythias members and the women
of its auxiliary were counted among the social
leaders of Tustin.
A wit once said,
“To be somebody in Tustin, you have to belong to
the Knights of Pythias, American Legion and
Tustin Presbyterian Church.”
In addition to
doing charitable work, the group sponsored
dances and socials for members and guests.
Pythian Sisters were excellent cooks and
published a cookbook, which became a best
seller. As the lodge members aged, the
membership dwindled and the Pythian Sisters
the leadership of Eric Zeeker, chancellor, and
Breit Olivier, vice chancellor, the lodge
membership has risen to 60 men in 2008.
which the lodge still owns, is considered a
candidate for the National Register on the basis
of its architecture, quality construction, high
degree of original integrity and significance in
Tustin history, according to a City of Tustin
Historical Survey by Thirtieth Street Architects
Most of the
characteristics of its 1920s architecture
remain, including matching bay windows on the
lower floor with the enclosed main entrance to
the second level centered between them. Also in
keeping with the architecture of this period is
the section of glass brick embedded in the floor
at the entrance to the Tustin Area Museum to
allow natural light to filter into the basement.
Look up the next
time you pass the gold and brown textured-brick
structure and you will see the colorful Knights
of Pythian emblem that confirms its early
chartering and identifies it as Lodge No. 85.