A drawing of the old shaker mill in West Stockbridge

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Specializing in on-site sales throughout the Berkshires since 1974.

The Grange No. 246

This early Grange Hall was originally built as the Methodist Church in the Village of West Stockbridge in 1838. Located on Swamp Road the property is bordered by the Williams River. A handsome example of Greek Revival architecture, which still retains its original 36 over 36 sashes with glazed gothic arches, the church closed its doors in 1910. The building remained vacant for a number of years.

In 1918 the building was purchased by the West Stockbridge/Alford Grange and underwent extensive renovations to the interior making it one of the "best Grange Halls of its day in Western Massachusetts." These improvements included electricity, wainscoting of the walls and vaulted ceiling, the installation of some of the original church pews on sidewall platforms, and the addition of rock maple flooring. The choir was also enclosed and glazed pocket doors with early stained glass decals were installed. A dramatic theatrical stage was constructed at the back of the large open meeting room with a spectacular hand-painted theater curtain which remains there today. The building was dedicated by members of that Grange on August 1, 1919, and the lofty 17’ ceiling, gothic windows, moldings, and wainscoting remain intact from this time period.

This building has been privately owned since 2007 and continues to be a meeting place for the West Stockbridge Grange which still houses their ceremonial artifacts there. These include a number of podiums, staffs, early wind and rain machines, and various other items of historic interest.

The building is not open to the public and it is not a public venue.

History of the Grange

On February 22nd, 1905 a group of farmers from the towns of West Stockbridge and Alford met at the red brick schoolhouse in West Center and talked over the advisability of organizing a Grange to represent these two towns. The Grange, or The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, is a social organization in the United States that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture founded after the Civil War. Some of the farmers in this community were already members of the Grange in Canaan, New York, while others were members of the red rocks (New York) Grange. The red brick schoolhouse was located on the extreme western border of the town of West Stockbridge and was within close range of the neighboring town of Alford. This section was closely populated at the time. After going over the matter, it was decided to organize a Grange to be known as the West Stockbridge and Alford Grange.

The West Stockbridge and Alford Grange first met at the brick schoolhouse which was dedicated as its meeting place on February 16th, 1905 (time travel). The obligations were given to the charter members by Clifford L. Robinson of Hinsdale, who is the state deputy. The Grange had 32 charter members:

Jesse F. Bliss
Charles W. Roberts
Charles H. Baldwin
John M. Vaber
Thomas L. Curran
Rev. William L. D. Bloch
Charles Alexander
John Woodford
Fabyan V. Petit
L. F. Arnold
Edward F. Vaber
James Crow
Patrick J. Welch
Vincent J. Rambo
Arthur G. Bristo
E. Munroe Easland
John H. Wilcox
Paul Conrandt
George M. Easland
E. Sebastian Smith
Mrs. E. Sebastian Smith
H. R. Hensel
Earl M. Baldwin
Edith Verchot
Mary Ford (now Mrs. Charles Roberts)
Alice Reusch
Mrs. E. Arthur Easland
Walter A. Forrow
Evi Champion
George N. Wilson
Mrs. L. F. Arnold

The first regular meeting was held in the old brick house in West Center by the George N. Wilson Estate. The Grange continued to use this house as a meeting place for about one year and their first officers were selected in it at their first regular meeting on March 2nd, 1905. The meeting was opened by J. A. Drowne who was the Master of the Grange in Canaan, New York. Carleton D. Richardson of West Brookfield, who was the state overseer at that time was present at this meeting and installed the first officers. The first officers elected to serve the Grange were:

Master - Jesse F. Bliss
Overseer - Charles W. Roberts
Steward - E. Arthur Easland
Assistant Steward - John Woodford
Chaplain - Rev. William L. Dubois
Treasurer - John M. Vaber
Secretary - Charles H. Baldwin
Gatekeeper - Charles Alexander
Ceres - Miss Alice Ruesch
Pomona - Miss Edith Verchot
Flora - Miss Mary Ford (now Mrs. Charles Roberts)
Lady Assistant Steward - Mrs. E. F. Vaber
The three members of the executive committee elected were E. Munroe Easland for the three-year term, George N. Wilson for the two-year term, and Fabyan V. Petitt for the one-year term. At this meeting, it was voted to hold the Grange meetings on the first and third Fridays of each month
At their meeting on March 17th, 1905, it was voted to purchase 48 badges, and other Grange working implements, including staff, seals, and a ballot box. At the same meeting, the first applications for membership were received. 14 new members joined. The initiation of new members was held on April 7, 1905, at the old George Wilson brick house. After the Grange had been in the original location for a time and had begun to prosper, the members decided that it was time to purchase a home of their own. The committee was appointed to investigate the purchase of a home and at the meeting held on January 23rd, 1906, it was voted to purchase the Steve Johns house in West Center which was only a short distance from the present brick house where they were currently holding their meetings. At that time the Grange could not own any property legally so members had to form a corporation to purchase the property. Thomas L. Curran was elected president of the corporation and Fabyan V. Petitt, the Secretary.

The former Johns house was remodeled on the inside and made into a very comfortable Grange hall. The first meeting was held in this new hall on February 16, 1906, and many social activities were held there that were greatly appreciated by the neighboring townspeople.

After operating the Grange for several years as the West Stockbridge and Alford Grange, the Alford members withdrew in the early part of 1917 as they wanted to organize a Grange of their own in Alford. Shortly after this, the remaining members decided to move to West Stockbridge Village and change their name to the West Stockbridge Grange, No. 246, Patrons of Husbandry.

They rented the Royal Arcanum rooms on Main Street and held their meetings there for a while, beginning on February 16, 1917. Around this time the Methodist church in town shut down and the executive committee consisting of Arthur W. Baldwin, William W. Howland, and Chauncey Jones appointed a committee to purchase the old Methodist church. Once it was bought, extensive repairs were begun. Lots of work was done by several of the members to reconstruct the present hall after it was purchased. The present stations in the Grange hall were made out of the black walnut tree wood that was taken from the pulpit. The work was done off-site and presented to the Grange by one of its members who has been the Master for several years. The Master's station is the main part of the pulpit of the old Methodist church. The Grange hall is one of the best Grange halls that are owned by any Grange in western Massachusetts. The hall was purchased in the early spring of 1919 and was dedicated on August 1st, 1919, a large crowd was present at the ceremony and all the neighboring Grange's were represented by their Masters and numerous members. E. E. Chapman, past Master of the Massachusetts Grange, was present and gave the local Grange a $50 check, to be applied to the building fund.

The Grange now boasts over 100 members.