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Chilton Engineering Building (Knights of Pythias Hall)
This compact building in a Renaissance Revival mode is a little jewel in Elko's downtown district. The Knights of Pythias erected the one-story, brick-walled building as their meeting hall. The large arched windows and entry and the red-tiled gable roof are major features, enlivened by a ceramic tile frieze and ceramic escutcheons in the spandrels of each arch.
The Knights of Pythias was formed in Washington, D.C., in 1866 as a fraternal order adhering to the principles of loyal friendship, based on the ancient story of Damon and Pythias. Condemned to death by the tyrant of Syracuse, Pythias was to receive a furlough before his execution if someone would take his place in jail. Pythias's friend Damon offered to do so. Instead of leaving his friend to be executed, Pythias returned, and the tyrant freed both men. The Knights of Pythias, based on this tale of brotherhood, became a particularly popular organization in the years after the Civil War. In late nineteenth-century Nevada the Knights, with a largely Protestant membership, had lodges in many towns and were known for taking care of their members and aiding orphans and widows. Other fraternal organizations such as the Masons and the Odd Fellows were also commonplace, providing camaraderie and community service for a transient and scattered population.
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