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Around The Grange
Historical Place status for Grange closer

By Andrew Brophy, The Connecticut Post (11/25/07)

  DECEMBER 2007 -- The Greenfield Hill Grange is moving closer to the history books.

Steven Bedford, an architectural historian, said Friday that he's finished revising the grange's application to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and plans to send it today to the State Historical Commission.

The commission approved the grange's application in October but wanted revisions before it was sent to the National Park Service for final approval.
Bedford said the Greenfield Hill Grange is worthy of the national register because granges, typically established 100 years ago to promote the agenda of farmers, weren't that common in Connecticut and Fairfield's grange is even more unique because of its size.

"Most granges are much more modest than that one," Bedford said. "The interior happens to be quite nice and appears to be from the era in which it was built."

The National Park Service has 60 days from the date it receives the application to decide whether the local grange gets listed on the national register, Bedford said.

Meanwhile, Robert Sendewicz, president of the Connecticut State Grange, said his organization doesn't object to the Greenfield Hill Village Improvement Society taking over ownership of the local grange building as long as it agrees to conditions that include not selling the building and allowing local grange members to meet there.

"One of the things we suggest they do is take into account the perpetuity of the grange in Fairfield. There are certain conditions," Sendewicz said.
The local grange has only 14 members and not all attend monthly meetings. Farming is uncommon in Fairfield today and grange meetings typically involve discussions about flowers and gardens, according to John Hauser, the local grange master.

John Jones, the GHVIS president, said the neighborhood association would allow the local grange to meet in the building at 1873 Hillside Road if the improvement society takes over ownership.

"Part of the reason that we're taking it over is so the current grange can continue to meet there and not have to lay out money for the upkeep of the building," Jones said.

The 450-member GHVIS would better be able to finance maintenance and repairs on the 110-year-old grange building, according to grange members.
The grange building, which includes a kitchen and dance hall, is in good structural shape, but its heating and septic systems need repairs. The grange also could use a parking lot, according to grange members.

Jones said he hopes GHVIS can assume ownership of the grange building before the end of the year. "Every system has a process. Lawyers have to go through the process so both sides are comfortable," he said.

The local grange isn't closed, but it technically would have to close if it didn't have enough members to fill seven officer positions. That is not the case as of yet, according to Hauser.

Connecticut now has only 65 granges, according to the Connecticut State Grange.

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