Greensboro, News

Greensboro Grange Gets a Facelift

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photo by Hal Gray
On the second day of grange hall repairs on June 7, volunteers included
(left to right)
Becky Arnold, Richard Foster, Stew Arnold, Isa Oehry, Sue Tester, Louisa Mattson and Chris Jacobs.

by Hal Gray and Isa Oehry, Community Journalists

GREENSBORO – Over 22 volunteers, some multiple times, met June 6 and 7, to refurbish the interior of the Greensboro Grange building in preparation for the annual summer CaspianArts (CA) art exhibit.

Organized by CA Treasurer Isa Oehry and working in morning and afternoon shifts over two days, volunteers from the greater Greensboro community as well as CA members (consisting of artists from towns including Greensboro, Hardwick, Wolcott, Craftsbury, Walden and Eden) primed and painted the main room of the meeting hall.

The building is being prepared for an art exhibit on weekends July 1 through August 13, as well as for the annual CA Open Studio event Sunday, July 30, during which local artists open their studios to the public. Maps of the studios will be available at the Miller’s Thumb and Greensboro’s Willey’s Store.

The grange facelift has been made possible with financial grants from the Greensboro ARPA fund and the Greensboro United Church of Christ Pleasants Fund, and support in kind from the Cellars at Jasper Hill.

Volunteers on the June 6 afternoon crew who help with repairs to the grange hall in Greensboro were (left to right)
Betsy Day, Randy Williams, Isa Oehry, Art Wolff, Liz Nelson and Nancy Schade (seated).

Isa Oehry prepared the following application (since lightly edited), featuring grange history, for the ARPA fund:

Our grange in Greensboro is filled with historical significance. It is one of the oldest buildings in town. Originally it sat in the Y of Craftsbury Road and Town Highway 8 and served as the town hall. Caspian Lake Grange members purchased it in 1913 for $310 and moved it across the street to its present location. Electricity was installed in 1917.

From the beginning, grange meetings were the center of Vermont social life. Programs were educational and recreational. In the early 1900s, they included box socials, music and recitations, discussions, games, dances, baking contests, crafts, sewing, maple sugar socials, card parties, and plays. Of special significance is that granges were the first fraternal group in the United States to allow women equal privileges in holding office. And to enter the grange, one had to know the secret password!

photo by Hal Gray
The morning volunteers on June 6 who helped with the grange hall facelift were (left to right) Jenny Bayles, Diana Griffiths, Alice Fleer, Isa Oehry, Art Wolff, Nancy Schade, Alta Turner and Louisa Mattson.

The response by the many visitors who came to the 2022 CA summer exhibit at the grange was overwhelming. The appreciation by many Greensboro residents for the renewed use of the building was apparent and sparked an interest with CA members to give it some more TLC so that the building can be used in the interim, until a more permanent renovation/restoration can take place. Greensboro residents will benefit from having the grange available as a community gathering place for art, culture, work, music, yoga classes, recreation, and much more. Investing in the grange at this time will benefit the longevity of the building. Improving its interior, even with a small budget, will increase its value and continue to spark new ideas for its use in our community. And lastly, preserving the grange will preserve precious Greensboro history including where Greensboro residents voted twice for Lincoln; where every Wednesday square dances were held; and where farmers gathered June 24, 1908, to discuss “haying – those who aren’t finished give reasons why they aren’t. Lemonade furnished by those not finished haying,” while women held discussion groups with topics such as “which is better, the man who gets up early or the man who is wide awake when he does get up?”

photo by Hal Gray
Volunteers facelifting the grange hall in the June 7 afternoon crew were (left to right) Adam Wheeler, B.J. Gray, Alice Fleer, Liz Nelson, Sharon Scelza, Isa Oehry, Chris Jacobs, and, on the ladder, Nick Goldsmith and John Wheeler.

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