Dorthy Hill, Heather Manning, Trina Bianchi - The Charlotte Grange #398
The Grange was slow in coming to New England, and Vermont’s first grange was the Green Mountain Grange #1 in St. Johnsbury, formed in 1871. Vermont, however, became the first state in New England and only the seventh state in the U.S. to form a State Grange, which happened in July of 1872. Several granges were formed during that time throughout Vermont although not in Chittenden County.
The first Charlotte Grange #47 was formed in 1873 and was only the second grange to be organized within Chittenden County. This first grange in our town ran from 1873 until 1879 when, for reasons unknown to us, it folded. Fast forward to 1908.
The Charlotte Grange #398 was chartered in 1908 with 62 charter members. Originally housed in the Methodist Church, Breezy Point Library on Greenbush Road, the Grange moved in 1910 to the Congregational Church Vestry until 1939. From 1939 until 1958, when the Grange purchased the Lyceum Hall, it used the Town Hall in Charlotte as the meeting place, and by 1940 the membership had grown to include 190 members. Today we have 19 members, less than 10 active—a small but very energetic group!
What does the Charlotte Grange # 398 do?
The mission of the Grange as an organization includes an education component, a service component, a legislative component and opportunities for fellowship. All of our annual and monthly activities tie into the mission.
Each year, we hold two rummage sales, which are our only fund raisers and allow us to maintain the Grange Hall so that it can be used not only for the Grange but also by the community. One sale is in the spring; the other in the fall. Although the sale itself runs now for only 1.5 days, it requires many hours prior to the sale for acceptance and sorting of donations and setting up for the sale. This is a very popular event in our community, both from the donations we receive and from the number of people who come from the surrounding area and beyond to shop! The second day is always a “bulk rate day” meaning that for the $5 entry fee for an individual (or $8 for a family) you can come to the sale and fill as many bags or boxes as you want!
In addition to the rummage sales, the Grange also donates and presents dictionaries each year to every 3rd grader in Charlotte, including all the 3rd graders actually attending Charlotte Central School and any others whose names we are given who are home schooled or attend an alternative school.
All the flags that are placed each year on the graves of Charlotte war veterans are donated by the Grange and replaced each year by Grange members in the four cemeteries in our town prior to or around Memorial Day.
Meet the Candidates Night is held annually prior to Town Meeting, giving the voting residents of Charlotte an opportunity to meet, hear and ask questions of the individuals running for public office in our town. Originally held in the Grange Hall each February, we now hold this at the Senior Center, as we no longer heat the Grange Hall during the winter months.
The Grange has in the past selected someone in Charlotte to receive the Citizenship Award for outstanding service to our community and has hosted a public reception to honor that individual.
Last year, the Grange hosted a potluck dinner for local farmers, inviting all the Charlotte farmers to join us for dinner and fellowship. The goal of that dinner was to learn what the Grange could do to help our local farming community. A few local farmers and their families joined us that evening and one of the challenges they all shared was how to market themselves, which led two of our members to interviewing, photographing and writing articles for the Charlotte News featuring our Charlotte farmers. Six farmers were interviewed, and articles were published from June until December of this past year. It is our hope that other farmers will agree to be interviewed so that we can continue to feature our local farms in the paper.
In addition, Grange members have for several years provided cookies for the local blood drawings and have in the past, provided different Grange and local charities with donated meals, knitted or crocheted items, pillow cases, etc.
Currently, the membership of the Charlotte Grange meets once a month, sometimes to share a potluck, fellowship and have a meeting; other months, strictly for fellowship and a meeting. The current goal is to figure out how to continue to do what we do for the community with our limited membership and, more importantly, whether or not we can raise enough money and find grants that will allow us to maintain and restore the Grange Hall so that it can be actively used by our community for individual, family and community events.
How to get involved
We are always looking for new members to join us! If you are interested in supporting your local Charlotte Grange, but don’t have the time or interest to become a member, we have a group of “Friends of the Charlotte Grange” who volunteer to help us at the rummage sales or other events or work days. Please feel free to contact one of the people listed below for more information about the Charlotte Grange!
The Grange Hall, could be a wonderful community resource if we can find the funding necessary to rehabilitate and restore it. It is a historic building with beautiful, unique features but it is in need of some major work. If you agree that the Grange Hall is an important piece of Charlotte history that should be maintained and used, consider how you could help us achieve that goal.