A Little History
In order to get a good grasp of why an organization such as Ravena Grange exists in the first place, a little background may be helpful.
The original Grange movement was birthed out of grave circumstances that affected the entire nation, these being the Civil War and the subsequent Reconstruction period. Bitterness and hatreds continued to abound, industry was in shambles, and agriculture, the nations primary industry was reeling under tremendous stresses. President Andrew Johnson, realizing the gravity of the agricultural situation, particularly in the south, commissioned Oliver Hudson Kelly to travel the burned and desecrated south, study the conditions, and report his findings. In addition to the deplorable physical state of agriculture, he found no organizational capabilities to remedy the situation. As a result, Kelley and his associates came to believe that an organization solely for material achievement through individual efficiency and mutual cooperation was absolutely necessary to restore the agricultural community, and thus the health of the nation. They also saw that there was a great need for the country as a whole to recognize the importance of agricultural pursuits even when the urban and industrial progress of the nation would eclipse farming as an industry. To this end, an organization was designed that could satisfy the social and educational aspects of rural life, while at the same time assisting farmers to share in the prosperity and opportunity this great nation offered. After a few years of intense planning, hard work, setbacks, etc., the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry was formally organized in an office on the corner of 4th. and Madison in Washington, DC, December 4, 1867.
The first actual working local unit was Fredonia Grange #1, (Chautauqua County) New York, organized by O.H. Kelly on April 16, 1868. From that humble beginning, over the past 144 years 1,606 Granges have been organized here in New York State alone. Ravena Grange #1457 fell into that continuum on October 19, 1919, when the decision was made by an existing organization known as the Patrons of Industry to cease that affiliation and become part of the Patrons of Husbandry.
Early meetings were held in various members homes, mostly in Ravena. During those years many attempts were made to locate property and build a facility. In 1930 the decision was made to move to the country, and in 1934 a suitable lot in Coeymans Hollow was purchased. Plans to build commenced at once, pledges were taken, 2500 board feet of local timber was donated, and in June of 1936 the present hall was dedicated.
Even before the hall was formally dedicated, it was pressed into service for the community. In 1934 the Coeymans Hollow Methodist Church was stuck by lightning, and services were moved to the Grange Hall. Talks began almost immediately concerning establishing a fire company in the Hollow. Late in 1936 fire hit the Grange Hall, and only minor damage was sustained thanks to quick work of the Ravena Fire Department and neighbors. Talks resumed about local fire protection, but it wasn't until October of 1945 that the Coeymans Hollow VFC was formally organized at the Grange Hall. In 1968 the Grange once again provided a meeting place for the Methodist Chruch after their building was destroyed by fire.
October of 1987 the Hall was pressed into service again, providing shelter for unfortunate residents of the blizzard. About 500 meals were served during that time. History repeated itself in December of 2008 with the advent of a devistating ice storm. Down through the years many improvements have been made to the facility, especially in relation to water supply, heating, and kitchen/dining room modernization. From its humble beginnings, Ravena Grange has always been involved in service to the community. In addition to the many dinners served by the grange to fund special projects and regular maintenance, the facilities have been made available to the fire company and the Little Red School House Museum to assist them in raising funds for their programs and projects. Projects that the Grange has assisted in raising money for include the Ronald McDonald House, St. Peter's Hospice, Ravena Library, as well as for individuals who have met with personal disasters. In 2009 the Town of Coeymans designated the hall as one of the Town's Disaster Centers.
Membership in Ravena Grange provided many opportunities for scores of individuals down through the years. Grange projects have included baking contests, talent contest/shows, Art and Photography contests, craft project opportunities, sewing contests, public speaking programs, special programs for youth, and higher education scholarship/financial assistance programs, to name a few. In addition to this membership has provided leadership opportunities for many. Members have been called on to serve in leadership capacities in the County level Grange, the State Grange, and in positions of community leadership outside of the Grange.
Our organization for children ages 5-14 (Ravena Junior Grange) provides many opportunities for this age group, from individual craft and personal development programs, to leadership development and community service opportunities. Many prizes have been awarded to our junior members over the years for their outstanding participation in project work. Check out their work and program elsewhere on this site.
In 2001 Ravena Grange voted to join the Action Grange program, designed to help our organization look at internal operations and external attentions, in an effort to assist us in more effectively serving the community. Over the years the faces may change, but the dedication to the labors at hand do not. Our community continues to change from a predominantly rural life to an urban-suburban life. While the Grange continues to maintain its stong core committment to Agriculture, it is also committed to meet the needs of a changing community.
Ravena Grange members come from all walks of life. It is a true family organization, as all from ages 14 and up can belong. These two aspects alone provide a foundation for service as it allows diversity of thought, and the ability to gather important information and develop meaningful service projects. Will you consider joining us? Many personal benefits await you.
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