Upon the hill: 121-year-old Grange Hall continues to serve community

August 2018 Posted in Community

IMG_0970By Mary Owen

Marjorie Tate White fondly remembers good times at the Union Hill Grange Hall.

A descendant of the original pioneers that organized the local grange, White, now 90 years young, was born, raised and still resides on the family farm just down the road from the Grange Hall. White and her parents met at the hall on Friday nights for the business and planning meetings for both the adult and juvenile grange activities.

“This was followed by Saturday evenings of social activities such as dinner, a friendly game of pinochle, or watching as her parents and their friends danced the night away,” said Annette Jensen.

“The Grange has always been a hub for friendships and gathering as well as supporting the community by offering its spacious environment to host local events for nonprofits like local fire departments, Santiam Canyon Stampede, and others such as Molly Moe’s Antique Faire.”

Historically, Jensen said the Grange organization itself dates back to 1867 and Civil War times, and is the oldest American agriculture advocacy group.

“During that time to current, granges were created across the state to gather communities together to advocate for laws and policies to support the farmer,” she explained.

“Local buildings were used as gathering places for meetings and social events for families and friends. A sense of community allowed friends and neighbors to band together to support each other through difficult times as well as celebrate successes and their bounty.”

Located between Silverton and Sublimity, Union Hill Grange Hall is the only structure on Grange Road.

“It’s surrounded by beautiful farmland,” Jensen said, who is a third-generation member and currently holds the positions of secretary and rental venue organizer.

The structure was originally built in 1897 and used as a church. In 1919, its function changed to that of a dance hall, and in 1929 Union Hill Grange Hall #728 was established.

In addition to the original church-turned-Grange Hall, the local Oak Grove one-room school house was moved from its previous location a short distance down the road on Victor Point Road to its current home adjacent and attached to the Union Hill Grange Hall.

“The development of the Grange Hall started with many of the farming pioneers of the area and still continues with second, third and fourth generations of those families,” Jensen said.

“Historically, the Grange was comprised of farmers drawing together to support each other back when the majority of the population was involved in the farming process in one way or another. Today everyone is involved in the consumption of the food that the farmer produces, but only a small fraction is involved in the farming process itself.

“Many of the members of the community now hold additional employment outside of farming and although they may live on a farm, farming is no longer the center of their lives as it once was,” she added. “As a result, membership has dwindled.”

Also in part due to the natural aging of the longtime pioneers who are reaching into their 80s and 90s, Jensen said the Grange is actively seeking new members.

Union Hill Grange Hall is funded by annual membership dues as well as rental of the building for venues such as weddings, reunions, birthdays, retirements, retreats and more.

“We are also available for local nonprofits such as 4-H groups and Future Farmers of America to hold meetings or events,” Jensen said.

“We use these funds for the preservation and repairs of the hall and grounds as well as to establish scholarships for local FFA groups of other community needs via requests from the local Service Integration Teams.”

Monthly potlucks are held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Grange Hall. Meetings are held at the same time and date.

“Come and join us!” Jensen said. The Grange, officially known as the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a fraternal organization with a rich history and highly visible community presents in the United States. Its motto is: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

For more information, visit orgrange.org or the Union Hill Grange Hall Facebook page. Grange rentals can be reserved by calling Jensen at 503-769-4244.

Union Hill Grange Hall 15755 Grange Rd., Sublimity Monthly Potluck Third Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

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