The Grange, kept alive by three indomitable women, music, dance and more in 2019

For many years, the Charlotte Grange was an important part of our farming community, and membership included entire families. The Grange was not only a place where neighbors shared news, compared notes on what was happening on their particular farms, discussed issues that affected their lives and talked about possibilities for change both on a state and/or federal level, it was also an important part of their social life. As time went on, there were fewer farms, socially the Grange became less important, and membership began to dwindle. The membership during the 1990s included well-known Charlotters like Ron and Bea Marble, Shirley Bean, Floyd and Marie Miner, Dave and Lynn Perrin, Mike and Doris Claflin, Brenda Temple and others.

Right before the turn of the century and shortly thereafter, three new faces joined the Grange. Not farmers and substantially younger than the average age of the then current Grange members, these three women brought new energy and life into the Charlotte Grange. Dorothy Hill, Heather Garvey and Deb Stone each, on their own, decided to join the Grange within two to three years of each other. For the next 18 years, these three women not only held all the major offices of the Grange—president, vice president, secretary and treasurer—they made it possible for the Grange to continue to survive. Because of their desire to see the Charlotte Grange continue to exist, they each devoted a lot of time and energy, making sure the Grange still held the two rummage sales each year, gave a dictionary to each third grader in Charlotte, provided refreshments to donors at the blood drives, provided new flags on every veteran gravesite at all the cemeteries and monuments in town, gave those running for public office an opportunity to meet and speak to constituents each year before Town Meeting, and recognized an individual citizen for outstanding contribution each year.

Without the incredible work and contributions of Dorothy, Heather and Deb over the first part of this century, the Charlotte Grange would not still be in existence. Of all the members who were active during the 90s, only Dave Perrin is still one of our active members. We salute all of them for their dedication and determination to keep the Charlotte Grange alive.

Today the Charlotte Grange has taken on the goal of rehabilitating and restoring the Grange Hall so that it can be, for years to come, a community resource. To date, we’ve been able to replace the fuel tank, upgrade the electrical service into the building, repaint the cupola, replace the kitchen window, reposition the fire escape and repair what turned out to be extensive water damage from the fire escape to the south side of the building. The entire south side and fire escape is now in the process of being painted. There is, however, lots more to do.

We have had both a conditional assessment done of the building and an ADA compliance review. We are now in the process of prioritizing the next steps towards restoration and rehabilitation of the building, which is located in the historic district of East Charlotte.

Last winter we decided to keep the Grange Hall open and usable in the hopes of having at least one event monthly in the Hall that would bring folks and attention to this historic building. Mike Walker did an incredible job of bringing music into the Grange Hall, and there were open mic events each month from September through May and Friday Night Showcases once a month from January to June. In addition, he organized a Winter Waltz, a Mardi Gras festival and a Summer Waltz night. Each of these events brought new people into the Hall, people who had never stepped inside the Grange Hall before. Mike already has plans in place for this fall and winter for the Hall, including open mic nights each month and other special music events.

Events coming up include Friday Night at the Grange on Sept. 6 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., which includes a potluck and music. You can count on this event happening all fall and winter on the first Friday of each month.

Acoustic open mic events start again on Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; sign up with Mike Walker. This monthly event will also continue all fall and winter on the third Tuesday of each month.

A special September music event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 14,: a Danse Café featuring Breton dancing and music, starting with a music workshop learning traditional tunes from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. and an actual dance from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. that evening. This will be a very fun afternoon and evening with traditional French folk dances and music!

The work we’ve done to date and the work necessary takes funding. Our major fundraisers each year are the fall and spring rummage sales, but those do not cover the extensive repairs and renovations that we face in order to keep this building intact and usable. We are applying for grants, but those require that the Grange have matching funds. Needless to say, one of the big tasks in front of us is fundraising!

If you are interested in helping us in any capacity—as a member, as someone who volunteers to help us with an event, as someone who can help us with some of the work to be done on the building, as someone who would like to help us fundraise or as someone who would like to donate towards this project—please contact our president, Margaret Woodruff. To accomplish our goal of making this historic building a true community resource for generations to come, it will take a village!

If you would like to be added to our mailing list so you get notices of events and our plans, send your email address to, Trina Bianchi.