Evening Star Grange Hall // c.1874

Rural New England towns like Dummerston, Vermont long relied on agriculture as a means of life. From this, local farmers and their families would organize in regional Grange Halls through the The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, an agricultural advocacy group. Many rural communities in the United States still have a Grange Hall and local Granges still serve as a center of rural life for many farming communities. The local Evening Star Grange was organized in Dummerston Center in 1874 with 32 members, growing by the end of the 19th century. This building would have held meetings where farmers could share trade secrets, make deals, and “talk shop” regarding farm life. Such buildings are significant as community centers for agricultural communities and should be preserved for future generations.

Bear Mountain Grange Hall // 1844

This large wooden building in Waterford, Maine, looks much like a church, because it was built as one in 1844! The building was constructed as a Universalist Church just over a decade after a local Universalist Society was formed in the area in 1830. In the subsequent decades of the church’s founding, dwindling membership by the time of the Civil War required the group to sell the building to local businessmen. The town rented a space in the building which used a floor as a school, after an additional floor was added to the base, giving the building the vertical appearance it has today. in 1896, the Bear Mountain Grange purchased the building as a meeting hall, allowing the school to operate in the building (an arrangement that lasted until 1949)! The building has seen better days, but besides the chipping paint and some wood-rot, it retains the original windows and has been relatively un-altered!

East Freetown Grange // 1916

The East Freetown Grange is a community organization founded in 1912, as a meeting place for the local chapter of The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. Granges have been the heart of rural American communities for generations. The home of local chapters of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, Grange Halls are where farmers have traditionally gathered to learn new agricultural practices, develop strategic business partnerships, and barter for goods and services. Grange Halls also serve as a gathering place for community celebrations and annual agricultural fairs. These social halls can be found in agricultural towns and villages all over New England, and historically have been as important (or more) to farming communities as churches in those areas. Within years of the East Freetown forming an organization, they gathered enough funding to erect this Arts and Crafts style building, with rustic fieldstone piers, likely from stone pulled off farmland nearby. The hall is still used today for everything from agriculture fairs to Girl Scout meetings!

Rochester Grange Hall // 1924

The Grange, officially named The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a social organization that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture. Grange Halls can be found in rural towns and villages all over New England, and historically served as a gathering place to discuss agriculture-based business, crops, trade, and issues faced in the community. The Rochester Grange Hall was constructed in 1924 to the designs of architects Brown and Poole of New Bedford, MA and is of the Craftsman style. The National Grange has sharply declined in membership since the late 19th century. In 2013, the Grange signed on to a letter to Congress calling for the doubling of legal immigration and legalization for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. The Grange now emphasizes an expansion in the H-2A visa program to increase legal immigration and address the crisis-level labor shortage in agriculture.

Sprague Hall // 1889

Built in 1889, this interesting structure is located away from the rocky coastline of Cape Elizabeth, a lasting remnant of the agricultural history of the town. The building was constructed as the Cape Elizabeth Grange Hall. The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a social organization in the United States that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture. The Grange organization, as it is often known as, had grange halls all over the country, where farming community members would gather to discuss issues and challenges that needed addressing. The building echos late 19th century architectural styles, blending multiple to create an elegant composition, wrapped in wood clapboard and shingle siding. In 1916, the hall was purchased by P. W. Sprague from the Cape Elizabeth Grangers to insure its use and upkeep – and it is still the home of the Patrons of Husbandry, Cape Elizabeth Grange #242.

Mapleton Hall // 1883

This meeting hall in Suffield, CT was built in 1883 on Crooked Lane, named Central Hall. When Crooked Lane was renamed Mapleton Ave, the hall was so renamed to reflect this name change, to Mapleton Hall. Starting in 1885, the hall was home to the local grange, a fraternal organization that encouraged families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture. With Suffield’s active agricultural uses (primarily in tobacco crops), this grange was quickly funded and built. For nearly 100 years the building saw use as a fraternal center, with dwindling membership after WWII, when the agricultural character of town began to make way for suburban growth. The building was sold to the Mapleton Hall Asssociation, in 1978, who began restoration of the structure which began to decay from deferred maintenance. The building is now owned by The Suffield Players, a non-profit community theater company.

West Tisbury Grange Hall // 1859

Image courtesy of @MarthasVineyardonisland

Constructed by the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society at the crossroads of the island, this Grange Hall in West Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard, is the center of agriculture and commerce for the Vineyard. Grange Halls are traditionally where farmers have gathered to learn new agricultural practices, develop strategic business partnerships, and barter for goods and services. The building was the hub of weekly farmers markets for decades and eventually owned by the Vineyard Trust in 1997, being restored soon after. The building is a vernacular Gothic Revival building with decorative bargeboard (gingerbread trim) and full-length porch.