Members of the Adna Grange felt they had a reason to celebrate simply by making it through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic with their doors still open.
In looking through their archives, they discovered they had even more celebrating to do: about five more years’ worth, to be precise.
In 2015, the Adna Grange celebrated what was believed at the time to be the organization’s 100th birthday, which would have made it 107 this year. However, grange master Tawyna White said in the process of going through historic photos and documents at the grange hall, she found a handwritten history that indicated that the grange’s charter was actually granted in 1910, making it 112.
“I was like, ‘112 years. That’s amazing.’ I wanted to celebrate that,” White said of finding the new records.
White moderates the Adna, WA History Facebook page and posted photos of both the handwritten account as well as a transcribed version. That account notes the Adna Grange originally met in Washington Hall, which burned, along with most of the grange’s original records, in 1914. The grange hall still in use today was built in 1915, which could account for the belief that the grange was founded that year.
On Saturday, July 9, the Adna Grange will hold a 112th birthday barbecue featuring lunch and music by Straight Shot. The event is twofold, first to celebrate and second to raise money and awareness for the organization. For its entire 112-year history, the Adna Grange has been the center for meals, special events and community gatherings in Adna. That all changed when COVID-19 regulations began to take shape in 2020, some of which lasted through early this year.
“COVID really hurt the grange because we just weren’t really able to raise money,” White said.
Active Adna Grange member Jackie Lester, who hand-paints promotional signs placed near state Route 6 to attract passersby to grange events, said granges historically have been community gathering places. Lester has been a member of the Adna Grange since 2008 along with her husband, Jim. Lester said she hopes now that gatherings are less restricted, the Adna Grange Hall can once again become that go-to place for surrounding residents. She gave the example of the grange’s monthly potato bakes that have now restarted and are something of a meeting place. There are former Adna schoolmates who use it as an occasion to get together, families who use it as an excuse to see one another and locals who come in to see their neighbors.
“I get a real joy seeing the people who come to this place to meet up with their friends and catch up,” Jackie Lester said.
Besides the July 9 birthday barbecue, events planned at the Adna Grange this year include monthly bingo starting in the fall, monthly baked potato lunches restarting in September, a pie and ice cream social on Veterans Day, a fall bazaar and breakfast with Santa on the same day as the Adna community tree lighting.
The main focus of fundraising for the Adna Grange centers around paying for repairs to the more than 100-year-old grange hall. White explained that the grange’s insurance company is requiring some of the repairs in order for the Adna Grange to continue to have insurance. Some of the needed repairs include: removing moss on the carport roof; replacing rotten boards in the building’s outside skirting and one exterior wall; fixing a drainage issue as well as the concrete slab that it damaged; repairing electrical wiring; painting interior walls; and removing weeds and other invasive plants from the landscape.
White said the insurance company is working with them on the issues and has given them time to get the work done but if they were to lose their insurance, they could no longer have the building open for community events nor rentals.
“It’s important to keep the building in the community and keep it part of the community,” White said.
The Adna Grange had about 39 members pre-COVID and White said they are still trying to figure out how many members they have now. She said she hopes events like the July 9 birthday party might also draw in members of the community to learn more about the grange and consider joining. The number of granges in Lewis County just recently fell from 13 to 12 with the closure of Silver Creek/Ethel Grange — a fate White would hate to see for Adna.
“We have some people who became members just to keep us open because if we fall below a certain number, they’ll consider closing the grange,” White said.
Statewide, there are grange organizations that actually predate Washington’s statehood. The fraternal non-profit, originally called the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, was originally founded as a place for farmers to gather. Today, the grange’s work still focuses on farmers and rural communities but the impact of the organization’s work can be felt further. Among its political lobbying accomplishments, the granges supported the creation of public utility districts (1929), the Family Farm Water act (1977) and the “top two” qualifying primary election process (2004).
“The order of agriculture has changed but it has stayed community focused,” Jim Lester said.
In order to assist with repairs at the grange, visit its online wish list through Home Depot: https://www.homedepot.com/list/view/details/shared/dce6eaa0-f955-11ec-988c-35e64f234be7
Adna Grange 112th Birthday Party
When: Noon-4 p.m. July 9
Where: 123 Dieckman Road, Adna
What: Barbecue food from noon to 2 p.m. and music by Straitshot from 2 to 4 p.m.
Cost: $20 per person