Great Falls Grange Reopens

Great Falls Grange Reopens

President of National Grange to speak at Great Falls Historical Society Program on March 11.

The local community at Great Falls Day 2014, assuming the same position as on Opening Day, May 5, 1929.

The local community at Great Falls Day 2014, assuming the same position as on Opening Day, May 5, 1929. Photo by Archie Brown

In a special program to celebrate the reopening of the Great Falls Grange building and to explore the history of the National Grange movement, Ed Luttrell, the 22nd President (Master) of the National Grange will be the keynote speaker at the March 11 program of the Great Falls Historical Society.

Luttrell, a native of Sandy, Ore., and a second-generation Granger, will discuss the beginnings of the Grange and the role it has played in local communities and on the national scene since its founding in 1867.

The GFHS program is free and is open to the public. It will be held at the Great Falls Grange, March 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. A social hour from 6 to 7 p.m. with refreshments precedes the program.

The National Grange has been a major farm and rural community service organization in the United States since it was formed after the Civil War to address the problems of the ravaged rural economy. With the country still reeling from the devastation of the war, many farmers were poor, discouraged and uninformed, and the Grange’s focus was to help producers become better educated about advanced farming methods, and allow farmers to act collectively to obtain better prices for their crops and other measures to better bring their agricultural products to market.

THE GREAT FALLS GRANGE #738 was established in 1920, and the newly constructed building was officially dedicated on May 4, 1929. It was one of the first Grange Halls built in Virginia, and was a center of the community for the residents of this then rural area. In 1920, agricultural prices had collapsed, beginning a 20-year depression for the American farm economy, and local farmers were seeking a way to band together to market their crops. At the time of the founding of the Great Falls Grange, the Great Falls (formerly known as Forestville) area was a community of dairy farms. Twenty-nine men and women founded the Great Falls Grange, and by 1921 more than 100 local farmers belonged to the Grange.

For many years, the Great Falls Grange was the social center of the village and its families. Friday night dances and Saturday night fried-chicken suppers at the Grange were popular events. The Grange held an annual community festival, and maintained a baseball diamond for the entire community to enjoy. The first library service in Great Falls was an initiative of the Grange, and the Grange provided a library for the community for more than 20 years, from 1939 to 1961.

Luttrell will also discuss the use of symbolism, ceremony and form, and the strong emphasis on character development that were hallmarks of membership in the Grange.

Luttrell grew up on a small farm outside of Portland, Ore. He has been involved in the Grange his entire life. His Grange accomplishments were first officially recognized in 1978 when he was named Oregon’s Outstanding Young Granger. He was Oregon State Master from 1996-2000, and has been one of the Grange’s most influential state and national leaders for decades.

THE GREAT FALLS HISTORICAL SOCIETY is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of local history. Our local history mission is “To feel the pulse of earth where man has trod, and for the future, keep the past.”