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Manchester Grange to celebrate 125th Anniversary May 5th
  APRIL 25, 2010 --

On May 19, 1885, 27 people gathered at the District 6 Schoolhouse, dedicated to the betterment of rural and agricultural initiatives in their community. Lead by James B. Olcott, Frank N. Buckland, and assisted by Sherman Kimberly, Manchester Grange No. 31 was organized. On May 5th, Manchester Grange will be celebrating its 125th Anniversary with an Open House.

All are invited to attend the Open House, which will be held at 7:30 PM at the Zion Lutheran Church, 120 Cooper Street in Manchester. The celebration will honor the history of Manchester Grange, and feature presentations for years of service.

In 1885, the town of Manchester was a leader in silk making, forestry, and other agricultural-based entities. James B. Olcott is historically known for his work establishing the Agricultural School in Storrs, which is now known as the University of Connecticut.

Olcott was appointed to a committee of three to investigate and report on an offer of land and money from Augustus and Charles Storrs to establish a school of agriculture in Storrs, Connecticut. The report from the committee was favorable, and in 1881 the Storrs Agricultural School was established. The organization of the school was entrusted to Olcott, T.S. Gold, and S.W. Johnson. Olcott was a member of the first Board of Trustees of Storrs Agricultural School.

As one of the founding members of Manchester Grange, Olcott offered his home as a meeting locale until the group secured the use of the South Methodist Church Vestry in 1886. At a special meeting to commemorate Manchester Grange's First Anniversary, the group invited the community to an all-day affair at the Town Hall, where they celebrated with a series of speakers, a collection of flowers, and a lecture and extensive display of different varieties and qualities of grass by Olcott. He was known state-wide for his award winning grass displays.

Over the years, Manchester Grange has played an important role in the community. One of their most popular events were Oyster Dinners, held at least once and often twice a year to capacity crowds. They have presented agricultural fairs, sported floats in local parades, hosted pancake breakfasts, chicken barbecues and their famous Sunday Dinners.

Manchester Grange remains an active organization today, with community service projects such as participating in Heritage Days at Cheney Hall, donating to the food pantry, donating clothing to the needy and old blankets/towels to the animal shelters.

One of Manchester Grange's recent projects is participating in the Dictionary Project's Words For Thirds, by donating new dictionaries to third graders at two Manchester elementary schools.

Local Granges across Connecticut have been an integral part of rural and non-rural communities for over 125 years, with currently more than 60 local Grange chapters in Connecticut. Local Granges are committed to bettering their communities through service projects and family orientated activities.

For more information on Manchester Grange and the Open House, contact the Connecticut State Grange Central Office at (860) 633-7550 or via e-mail at info@ctstategrange.org.

Information on the Grange in Connecticut can be found at www.CTStateGrange.org



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