A Bit of History
On May 15th, 1901, the West Baldwin Grange was first organized in southern Maine with 39 members. 110 years later on August 17th, 2011 my husband Steve and I purchased the Grange building built in 1902, which was the outcome of this organization. During the 100 plus years of it’s history, the Grange was a community gathering place for local farmers and their families, a venue for meetings of all sorts, a place to put on plays, music, and performances, a home to the Boy Scouts to build their slot car racers. Within it’s 6000 square feet, 3 floor space, countless bean suppers were served – first on the top floor where the big, old wood stove still lives, and then later on the first floor with two dinners often scheduled per evening. Officers were elected and sworn in, dues collected, and friendships were forged. The business of the community from the price of dairy products to the recent illnesses of both man and beast were discussed and mulled over during the conversation and gossip that took place there. The rooms still echo with the presence and laughter of these hard working members of the West Baldwin community. In the hot summers, the windows were open on both sides
of the building providing a draft of air, assisting the huge floor fans in their circulation. In winter, an oil burner with visible duct work replaced the wood and later coal stoves, with the help of ceiling grates, to attempt to keep the cold at bay for the duration of an event. The two seater, off-set double decker outhouse – one for men, one for women accommodated people’s needs during the events, only later to be cleaned out below and hauled away by some unfortunate, short-straw drawing individual. In it’s later years of disuse (we estimate the last
meeting might have been held in 1987 or so to try to gain support for renovating the building), the Grange became a storage facility for the implements of old age – crutches, walkers, wheel chairs, and bed pans – a place to go to find helpful equipment for grandpa or grandma who couldn’t afford to buy new. Many years later, into this building with so much history, peered Steve and I – intrigued, excited, and curious.