Mansfield residents discuss future of Grange Hall

| By Adrienne Douke |

Concerned citizens and Mansfield dignitaries met March 19 to discuss the future of the Mansfield Grange Hall and propose plans for its sale if no commitments are made to restore a grange membership in Mansfield.

Earlier on March 5, a small group got together and decided to mail out flyers about the proposed sale of the building to all Mansfield residents to see if some interest in grange membership could be rekindled.

The consensus at the March 19 meeting showed a lack of interest in reviving the Mansfield Grange, but to allow a waiting period of about two months to give the community time to think about the proposed sale of the building or to see if anyone was willing to step up to the plate and begin the process of rebuilding the Mansfield Grange.

“Otherwise we will have to put it up for sale,” said Rusty Hunt, Washington State Grange membership director.

Does Mansfield need a grange of it’s own? Typically, a grange is an agriculturally based community organization, focusing primarily on the special and diverse needs of farming communities. A local grange hall provides convenience to grange members who live in town and boosts the community dynamic.

Grange halls have been in existence since 1889, “building stronger communities … by in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity,” the grange booklet reads.

Granges offer a wide variety of services for the community such as providing a venue for scholarship dinners, auctions and dances and a meeting place for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H and other groups and classes. Although Mansfield boasts many nonprofit clubs such as the Lions Club, chamber of commerce and the Booster Club, the grange also offers a legislative arm to lobby for a town’s unique interests in Olympia.

Currently, all of Mansfield’s Grange members meet with St. Andrew’s Grange since the two granges consolidated several years ago.

What does it take to start and maintain a grange? As it turns out, it’s a very simple list: 13 charter members over the age of 13½ — at least four male and four female, a willingness to meet monthly all year round and pay yearly dues of $42. Hall maintenance and payment of power, water, sewer and garbage are the only bill requirements. The hall can be rented out for weddings, funerals and other events to raise funds for these expenditures as well.

Presently a church group, The Columbia River Fellowship led by Pastor Sam Buckingham, rents and maintains the grange hall in Mansfield.

However, the Washington State Grange feels the time has come for Mansfield to either have a grange of its own or sell the building.

The Mansfield Grange Hall offers historical significance as a landmark structure, built between 1914 and 1916.

“It used to be a lumber yard, then the building was built between 1914-1916, and the grange bought it in the 30s” Ethel Poole said.

The building has been well-maintained and has a lot of life left in it. Having a local grange will give Mansfield residents a voice, and a membership of their own. The ability to hold events locally at the grange hall gives Mansfield the advantage of bringing tourist dollars into the town. Having a grange is a valuable addition to any small town, and this one is no exception.

Any person or group interested in reviving the Mansfield Grange Hall should contact Rusty Hunt at (509) 681-0218.