On Sunday, May 4, residents of Great Falls and visitors had the opportunity to celebrate Great Falls Day at the Great Falls Grange on Georgetown Pike and learn more about the history of the community. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the public assembly hall was built in 1929, a product of the Grange Movement which swept America after the Civil War. The Grange was a symbol of commitment to community involvement and progress, and has been a meeting and special event site throughout its history.
“It is great that people can take the opportunity to go out and meet their neighbors at event like this,” said Dranesville District Supervisor John W. Foust who attended the event. Great Falls Historical Society sponsored the event, which celebrated the 85th anniversary of the dedication and opening of the Great Falls Grange Number 738. Fairfax County Park Authority took responsibility for several displays and contributed historic archives from the Great Falls Grange, and Fairfax County agricultural history. Cate Henderson, a liaison with the Friends of Frying Pan Farm Park helped bring some animals from the farm park to the Great Falls Grange. “We are here to represent a local farm that would have benefited from the Grange,” said Henderson.
In 1929, the Grange was built for $12,500 and featured the latest in kitchen and heating equipment. It was one of five grange halls that served the dairy farming community. Dairy farming was the predominant form of agriculture in the county, and Fairfax County was the leading Virginia producer until 1933.The Grange opened doors on May 4, 1929 and served as the center of community life for 52 years.
With declining membership and the dairy farms giving way to suburban development, the Grange and its grounds were sold to the Fairfax Park Authority in 1981. The Great Falls Grange is the last standing unaltered grange hall in Virginia and is listed on the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites, with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Attending the event was Pat Brodowski, Chief Gardener of Monticello and representatives of the Grange, or Order of the Patrons of Husbandry. Marjorie Lundegard, a resident of Great Falls since 1988 was assisting with a display of old time children’s toys at the old schoolhouse. “The community put a lot of energy into this event,” said Lundegard. “We just wish more local residents would attend this event.” Charles Leik, member of the National Barn Alliance brought out a miniature barn which kids and visitors could assemble. “We call it a three dimensional puzzle,” said Leik. “Kids really enjoy it.”
The Great Falls Historical Society was organized in 1977 to promote community spirit by bringing the past into the present. To learn more about Great Falls Historical Society, visit www.gfhsws.org.