The Grange Hall

Old Picture of Rosendale Grange

Our next project is the renovation of the Grange Hall located one block west of the intersection. 

The “Rosendale Grange Hall” was built in 1891 to serve as the meeting hall for Rosendale’s chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows which was formally chartered that year having been organized under Grand Master Dunn.  Women also sought the friendship of the Odd Fellows and the Sister of Rebekah was established in 1951 as the female auxiliary of the Odd Fellows.  Rosendale had its own chapter of the Rebekahs (Roena Lodge #125) which used the Hall twice a month.  The Lodge, in addition to providing mutual relief, its members presumably led efforts to help the elderly and poor.

The building itself symbolizes the extensive role of fraternal organizations in American social history.  In addition to housing the Odd Fellows, the structure later served as the meeting facility for Grange #697 – a “farm family fraternity.”  The meetings of both the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs took place on the second level of the Hall; the first level included a stage and entertainment hall that served as the village’s entertainment center.  Events ranging from local high school basketball games to community plays occurred.  The hall even functioned as an opera house during the early twentieth century.  The Odd Fellows maintained their prolific presence in the community until 01939 when declining membership caused the Rosendale chapter to consolidate with the Ripon Lodge which later lost its charter in the late 1970s. 

After the members of Lodge #89 had vacated their prominent hall, the Rosendale Community Grange #697 acquired the property in 1943.  William Armstrong organized Rosendale’s chapter in 1931.  It included 43 members who met in the Rosendale Town Hall before the group purchased the Hall.  Grange #697 evolved from the national Granger movement.  These “Patrons of Husbandry” belonged to local units knows as granges which worked to secure farmers’ interest in an era when market prices and railroad rates stirred an agregarian revolt.  The early Grangers’ principle of working for mutual benefit is echoed in Rosendale’s Depression-era Grange #697, which sought to promote “Community Service work of every kind and detail.”  Among its varied efforts, this group was responsible for the following:  working with other local granges to insure rural free delivery to all, securing approval for installing the frist stop signs at the intersection of STHs 23 and 26, building and maintaining the Fondrose Grange Wayside, a picnic area created north of Rosendale in 1954; serving the homebound; hosting dinners for community organizations; maintaining the upkeep of area cemeteries; and sponsoring educational courses and scholarship contests.  In addition, members of Grange #697 literally had opened themselves up to the community by allowing the area 4-H Club and senior citizens group the use the Hall.  All of these activities have had a physical effect on Rosendale throughout the twentieth century.  Moreover they had an intangible impact by heightening the sense of community cohesion. 

By 1975, Grange #697 consisted of forty members.  The group continued to use the Hall as a meeting facility until approximately 1982, when the Grange sold the building.  The new owner operated a business known as Grange Hall Antiques until 1986, after which the building has remained vacant. 

In 2010, the building was purchased by Phil and Sue Pinch and donated to the Rosendale Historic Society.  Since that time, the Society has begun a renovation of the Hall.  The metal roof has been repaired and painted, the foundation wall has been repaired, all 24 windows and two doors (upstairs and down) have been replaced, bad siding has been repaired and replaced and the ouside has been pained, including the trim.  As a community clean-up activity, a group of Laconia students helped with some general interior cleaning and window washing. 

Work on the inside will continue including rewire lights and install outlets, insulate the walls, clean and paint ceiling and side walls, install heating, install toilet, sink and sewer connection and install a new ceiling and plaster repair for the 2nd story. 

The ultimate goal is to house a museum for the Historical Society.