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Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Our Grange Hall
 
The Winchester Grange Hall today

When Winchester Grange was organized in January, 1888, the first meetings were held in a hall located over the store owned by the Bronson Brothers.  Rent was only fifty cents a month.  In finding that Hurlbut's Store had come up for sale, the Grange decided to purchase the building - for a mere $600.00.

In the book "The Connecticut Granges" (1900), Mrs. S.A. Wetmore tells the early story.

"The Grange held its first meetings in a hall over the store owned by the Bronson Brothers.  In 1894, learning that the building formerly known as Hurlbut's Store, and afterwards a hotel, was for sale, the property was investigated and bought for Grange uses.  It is a large two-story house with double balcony running the entire length.  There is a hallway through the centre of the first floor one side of which opens into a spacious dining room, from which the partitions have been removed, making one large room in the north part fitted with tables and stove.  The other side opens into a kitchen and tenement which occupies the south part of both stories, and is rented.  A broad stairway leads to the upper hall which has an anteroom and is of the same size as the dining room below.  It has been altered, painted and papered, and fitted to seat about 150 people using folding chairs, which were purchased by the Grange.  The Grange owns the property with only a small incumbrance, which will be nearly cancelled at the close of the present year.  The purchase money has been paid from time to time as it was collected from initiation fees and dues."

Secretary Emeritus Marion Beecher continues the story in her historical summary of Winchester Grange used on the occasion of the Grange's 100th Anniversary celebration in 1988.

"In 1951 the dear old Grange Hall burned to the ground, closing one chapter in the history of our Grange, but opening another, as members, both brothers and sisters, gathered their time, their strength, and their talents, and under the direction of Sherwood Berger, and the Building Committee, rebuilt the hall.  It burned on June 21, 1951, and the new hall was dedicated and ready for use on June 22, 1952 - at which time a dedication ceremony was held, with a wonderful program and service to bind this new Grange Hall into the community - much as the old hall had served."

According to an article in the June 23, 1952 edition of the Winsted Evening Citizen, the Dedication Ceremony was a day-long affair, consisting of a church service, luncheon and program.  Over 450 people were in attendance, including many Pomona, State and National Grange dignitaries.  State Master Ira Wilcox was the Dedicating Master, who presented the keys to Winchester Grange Master Richard Galaise, who in turn presented them to Sherwood Berger.  The program consisted of a series of songs by the Winchester Men's Chorus, and membership awards were presented to George Beach, Fred F. Beecher, Harry Manchester, Hattie Manchester, Mrs. Gertrude Avery, Harold Beach, Ernest Eisenlohr, Mrs. Jennie Moran, Winfred Hurlbut and Edwin Eisenlohr.  The guest speaker was L. Roy Hawes, Priest Archon of the National Grange.

A large historic flag was presented to Winchester Grange by Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Smith, which was hung in front of the hall.  The flag only had 45 stars.

Since the dedication, Winchester Grange Hall has been a staple in the Winchester Center community, holding numerous programs and events year-round.  It also has housed the Winchester Center Volunteer Fire Department since 1948, and is preserving the Winchester Center zip code by providing a home for the local Post Office.


The first Winchester Grange Hall - Circa 1920 Circa 1940
After the fire - 1951 The rebuilt hall - 1952

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