1908 - GRANGE HALL - 2008

The Grange - a Timeline

This is an article about the Grange Hall and some of the activities that took place there. This is not intended to be a history of Alexander Grange #304. That is the group that makes this building its home and the group responsible for its construction and up-keep of the Grange Hall. Pliney Frost produced a history of the group in 1989, part of its 100th anniversary.

Sources of information used in this article include material collected by Pliney Frost including clippings from the Calais Advertiser, Bangor Daily News and Grange Herald. Several copies of the Alexander Grange Annual Newsletter were in this collection that he gave to A-CHS for safe storage.

The granite doorstep marked: P of H 1908. A bit of history etched in stone!

Three related and necessary events predate the Grange Hall. Alexander Grange #304 was organized on August 24, 1889. Names of the applicants (Charter Members) were J. C. F. Stephenson, Mrs. J. C. F. Stephenson. Albion Keith Paris Berry, Horace Frost, Florence Frost, John Crafts, Isaiah Bailey, Mrs. Isaiah Bailey, George M. Bailey, Mrs. Claudius M. Huff, Augustas Wellington Frost, William H. Brown, Jasper Bailey, Charles A. Frost, Robert Clark C. Brown, Charles L. Brown, John L. Seamans, Merton Scribner and Charles Sidney Hunnewell. A. K. P. Berry was the first Master. (I have written full names here, not just initials that too often were used on the original. Of interest to historians of the state and national scene, Albion Keith Parris (1788 - 1857) was a popular Maine Governor and John Charles Fremont (1813 – 1890), explorer of the American west, carried Maine in the 1856 presidential election, but lost in the nation to James Buchanan.)

Charles E. Tyler

Delmont Dwelley

Wilson Frost

Charles L.

Lizzie Brown

Earl Varnum

True Varnum

Eda Varnum

For reasons unknown to this researcher, it was necessary to reorganize #304 and that was done on June 23, 1906. Leaders then were True Varnum, Charles E, Tyler, Florence E. Frost, Delmont Dwelley, Wilson Frost, W. L. Bradeen, Frank Flood, Charles L. Brown, Earl Varnum, Edith (Eda)Varnum, Annie Tyler, Lizzie A. Brown and Lottie Frost. True Varnum was the master.

Finally, on May 29, 1908, Lizzie A. and Charles L. Brown deeded for $1.00 a lot between his store and the M. E. Church to Alexander Grange #304. The lot was 110 feet by 70 feet. A condition was attached to the sale; that no person shall be allowed to buy or rent the grounds, or building thereon, for trading purposes.

1908 – Notes made by Pliney Frost tell about the construction of the hall. From October through December J. M. Steward was paid $211.25 for “Building Hall.”

1909 – J. M. Steward was paid $10.00 for “work on hall.”

1910 – Archibald Beney was paid $13.12 for “mason work.” Edgar Berry was paid $13.50 and Stephen D. Frost $29.75 for “work on stable.” Nails purchased from S. S. Pineo in Milltown came to $8.54. Lumber, boards and shingles from James Murchie & Sons cost $58.33. More shingles were purchased from Granville Chase Co. in Baring for $20.25.

James Murchie had mills and stores on either side of the border. When we go to the Charlotte County Museum in Milltown, NB, we are visiting his home. By 1908 his sons William, George, John, James and Henry were running the business.

1911 - $50.00 was paid to W. J. Harper for a piano.

William J Harper tuned pianos for a living and did his business out of 17 Monroe Street, Calais.

1912 – Fred Bohanon worked on the hall - $40.00

This information indicates that the hall cost $274.37 and the stable $130.37.

1917 – Miss Blanche Webster demonstrated war bread on Saturday evening, December 15th. Member Josiah Bailey died. Resolutions of Respect were published in the Calais Advertiser and Bangor Commercial.

1924 – James McVay of Calais drove to Alexander to install officers. There was a small attendance because of the cold weather. A baked bean supper followed the installation; 50 were present.

1927 - The Annual Fair was held October 13th featuring chicken supper and home made ice cream. Members voted not to rent the hall to DeWolfe Mann for dances but to hold dances to raise funds for a new stove. New locks were put on the hall and stable.

1928 - Nora Seamans used the hall for an ice cream social to benefit the Church. Mr. Tomkins had free use of the hall for a school entertainment and dance. The town was asked to pay back rent on the hall that was used for town meetings.

1929 – The hall was used for a Pound Party and the Church Circle meetings. New curtains for the stage were purchased and new oilcloth was placed on the tables. Dances were held with a local orchestra; 50 cents for men and 10 for women, Hot dogs were sold. On the 4th of July, Ralph Brown’s Orchestra supplied the music. In October, members and town’s people cut bushes at the cemetery. Zela Cousins joined the Alexander Grange in December 1929. Sixty-five years later she was the longest serving member and was presented with a Continuous Membership certificate from the Maine State Grange by Howard Pike Seavey, Master of the Alexander Grange.

1930 - The roof was patched and the chimney topped. Bob McArthur did the work. A dance was held to raise money to buy new lamps. These electric lamps were run on a Delco type system that generated DC power with a gasoline engine. Members voted to give a day’s labor at the cemetery.
Should they get a new fence or repair the old?

1931 – May 1 was cemetery clean-up day. A baked bean supper and dance were held to get money for the cemetery fence. The members voted against renting the hall for movies. Harvey Smith was hired to keep order at the July 4 dance. Entertainment at the November 14 meeting was music on the Victrola. Cecil Frost and Cecil Leighton were paid to dig the drain, $1.60 each for 4 hours work.

1932 - James McVay gave an interesting talk on his trip to Ireland. The lecturer’s program that night consisted of readings by Alice Staples and Eva Perkins, songs by Marjorie Hunnewell and Carrie Varnum, readings by Hiram Staples and Bertha McArthur, songs by Ruth Dwelley and Florence Ferguson, and a reading by Linnie McArthur.

1937 – The members voted to postpone setting the cemetery fence until spring. Fannie Dwelley had use of the hall for entertainment to benefit the Red Cross. Olive Edgerly used the hall for a school time and wood was ordered for the cook stove.

1938 – It was decided to shingle the roof and to work on the cemetery in May. The lighting system was not working. Would new batteries solve the problem or did they need a new system from Westinghouse? Cost of the new system was $232 plus trade in; members voted for the new system. A sack of pulp plaster was purchased to patch the walls. Broken windows were repaired, Friday night dances were held with dogs and rolls; 40 cents for men, 25 cents for the ladies. In August the walls were washed in preparation for a coat of light green paint.

1939 – Eva Flood used the hall for the 4-H club. Paul Dwelley and Ivan Jeffery were in charge of dances. Hale School graduation was held on June 8th with entertainment arranged by teacher Eva Bennett. The annual Pomona Grange supper was baked beans, scallops and the fixings. The chicken supper cost 50 cents, waiters ate free; $35.00 was taken in. The town owes $17.00 for rent of the hall and stable. Broken glass was again replaced; Teacher Mary Severance had a Christmas tree and entertainment at the hall.

1940 – New curtains were hung in the upper hall and ½ cord of wood was delivered. (In late January, Charlie Brown’s Store burned. The building was only about 30 feet from the Grange Hall and this concerned the members. (See issue 138, page 18 for newspaper account of the fire.) On February 7, fire insurance was discussed. The 4 – H used the hall, and there was a school box supper. The town had the hall for its annual meeting at which the Grange served dinner. Biscuit Gilman and a four piece orchestra played for the dances for $17 a gig. Dogs and rolls were sold. Charlie Brown used the lighting system to pump water for the cement in his new cellar. The Church next door also used the system. On august 7 a community meeting was held at the hall in regard to electric lights and on September 4 it was voted to change the voltage and hook on to the hi-line.

1941 – Sale of the stable was discussed, but it was decided to keep it and repair it to be a woodshed. The hall was rented to Lone Pine and his Mountaineers for 20% of the gate.

1942 – The stable door was repaired and windows replaced in the hall. One lecturer’s program was a Talk on National Defense. The stovepipe was again replaced.

1944 – Members met and worked first and second degrees on Sherman Flood and John Leighton. The lecturer’s program included singing by ‘Lady of Song’ Irene Carlow and ‘Dixie’ Winifred Strout. Louise Flood read a story and Genevieve Flood played the piano. Pupils of Hale School had a Christmas entertainment at the Grange Hall on December 22. Santa Claus arrived to distribute gifts. Those with perfect attendance were Carolyn Flood, Cecilia Perkins, Jean Flood, Joan Flood, Joyce Frost, Hilton Perkins and John Perkins.

1945 – Pliney Frost has returned home from attending the 72 Annual session of the Maine State Grange in Portland. Member Hiram Staples died at a Calais Hospital. Charles Cousins is reported ill at his home.

1954 - Third and fourth degrees were conferred on Arnold and Ruth Hartford at the March meeting. Following was a St. Patrick’s program headed by Creation Cox. Lillian Varnum, Charles James, Bertha Scribner, Norma Frost, Zettie Frost, Mildred Holst, Paul Dwelley, Rupert Day and Everett Dean sang and read for the group followed by a dance. At the close of the evening, a Harvest Supper was enjoyed.

1955 – Two hundred twenty attended an Open House on March 30. A song festival highlighted the evening. The Grange Chorus started with a welcome song. Members of this group were Bertha Scribner, Alberta Berry, Herbie and Ethel Fitzpatrick, Thelma Moreshead, Winifred Elsemore, Martina Howland and Frances Flood. The Woodland Male Quartet and Ladies Quartet each presented musical selections. Other granges represented by their attendance were Princeton, Cathance, Pembroke, Machias Valley, Jonesboro, Indian River, Lubec, Robbinston, Charlotte, Wesley, Jacksonville, and Dennys River. Dancing was enjoyed after the program.

1987 – This year Alexander Elementary School opened and activities such as the annual town meeting were moved from the hall to the gym of the new building.

1989 – The hall and grounds were the sites of the town’s July 4 celebration. The Boy scouts had contests, games and sales outside. Inside was a craft and food table. There was a display of items made from recycled cans, bottles, etc. The Grange had a table of rummage and articles for sale; the old fashioned sunbonnets were a choice of many little ones. Hot dogs and hot and cold drinks were sold from the kitchen. The chocolate CakeWalk was fun for the kids and adults alike and we enjoyed a good parade, too. Also in July, the Alexander Grange #304 received a plaque commentating 100 years of service. It was presented to Master Mildred Holst by Donald Brown, Deputy of the Maine State Grange.

1990 – The hall was used by the Boy Scouts as a collection place for their Scouting for Food Project they did for community service. Grange members kept the fire going and served donuts and hot chocolate. A Halloween party was put on for pre-school children and their moms. Harvest Lunches were held on Mondays during November.

1991 – A new door was built and installed on the hall. One side of the roof was shingled and Earl Landry arranged for firewood. Again, the grange provided lunch at the town meeting.

1992 – The evening of July 3 found the hall full as people enjoyed a talent show. Sonny and Cher, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers were among those entertaining. The Cub Scouts again made Christmas wreaths in the hall.

1993 - Grange members served supper to IBFA. Josh Pollock played his violin for members and Carl Oakes was presented with the Grange Citizen Award for all he does in the community. The hall was full of Seaveys as that family held their reunion in August. In September, many members had a workday to putty the windows and prepare the hall for winter. On December 15, members exchanged gifts at their Christmas meeting and on the 21st served a turkey dinner at their past masters meeting.

1994 – A $75 anonymous donation was the start of the wiring fund. The hall is one of the oldest buildings in town and with many modern electrical devices, rewiring is in order. A penny collection given by Brett Holst added $101 to the fund. Scout Lee Cummings’ Eagle Scout project was to design and build a new fire escape for the hall.

1995 to 2006 – Many things have changed at the Grange Hall in the last dozen years. A wall furnace was installed and Joey Merseralle put up a new ceiling as an Eagle Scout project, both upstairs. The downstairs walls were paneled. Pembroke Grange # 245 disbanded and its members joined Alexander. A hot air oil furnace was installed so the wood stove was retired. Finally, many improvements were made in the kitchen.

2000 – At a celebration of the millennium and Alexander’s 175 year of incorporation a dedication of the flagpole and Veterans’ Monument next door at the Municipal Office, a Chocolate Cake Walk, and an exhibit of Alexander – Crawford Schools, Seniors and Veterans done by Cassie Oakes, Shane brown and twins Brodie and Thomas Tozier highlighted the July 1 activities.

2007 – A-CHS had a school picture identification day and many of those pictures were exhibited during hunters’ lunches. On August a community day was held on Townsend Hill and in the Grange Hall. Audrey Frost headed up this fun activity.

2008 – Mildred (Flood) Holst’s 80th birthday was celebrated by many family members and friends on May first.


Archibald Beany is engaged building the grange stable.”

Calais Advertiser ~ Alexander News ~ May 18, 1910

In days past certain public buildings, principally inns, churches and granges, had a stable nearby to protect horses from the weather while the teamsters were inside. Roberta Wheaton in Issue 80 told about the seven stall stable at the Princeton Grange Hall (actually in West Princeton). This was not used or kept in repair after the coming of the horseless carriage and was blown down in a windstorm in 1922.

There was a stable behind the Alexander Grange Hall. The hall was built in 1908. Our sources, Charlie White, Mildred Holst, and Marian Cousins remember it being used by the grange, not for their meetings, but for the dances. The dances would attract folks from all over. Hi Staples of Baileyville called the dances. A deaf man named Yates from Grand Lake Stream couldn’t hear the music, but could feel the great noise of feet pounding on the upper floor, especially from the down stairs room where refreshments were available. Our sources remember people coming to those summer dances in their cars. The stable was a place where some men would gather for a little smile, and if too many smiles were had, a little fistfight might break out. Percy Strout and Curtis Frost were two who might be found in the stable.

By the mid thirties, the building was not used as a stable, but as a place where the school kids played at noon, swinging on the open rafters, especially on a rainy day. The town also stored snow fences here in the off season.

The stable stood about 30 feet behind the grange and had a gable roof that paralleled the road. The driveway to it was between the hall and Charlie Brown’s store. The stable was open on the south end. Charlie White estimated that it was 24 by 40 feet. He made these sketches.

The automobile made the stable a less useful building. So it was torn down for the used lumber. It had been built of 4X4s, 2X4s and boarded-up with inch boards. Today the Alexander community faces another situation where a building has become less useful because of changing times. Will the Grange Hall be torn down so the lumber can be reused? Will it be wrecked and hauled to the dump like so many old buildings today? Will the Grange become a revitalized organization that can care for its building? Or will a new use be found for this old building? Will history repeat itself?

The few members of Alexander Grange, Patrons of Husbandry #304, need help. The historic role of the Grange, as a farm family organization, ceased in Alexander about 50 years ago when farming was replaced with working in Woodland or Calais as the economic drive force for our residents.

Local grange members here, as all over America, have changed the role of their organization. Our grange has provided opportunities for community members to mingle at suppers, at hunters’ lunches, and at the Alexander Day Celebration in early July. But a double-edged knife has cut at the members’ activities. Too few members have forced them to stop suppers. Too few attendees have caused them to drop the Alexander Day Celebration (Here again the automobile forces change by taking folks to Eastport or wherever for bigger parades).

What other role exists for this organization and these few members? At present, the members consider keeping up the hall as their biggest job. Over the past few years they have put in running water with an inside toilet. They have added an oil furnace. And they work hard to pay $350 a year for liability insurance. Alexander Grange, Patrons of Husbandry #304, needs members and money to continue. What kind of celebration will we have in 2008 for the centennial of the Grange Hall ?