BETHEL – Alder River Grange 145 members will celebrate the Grange’s centenary on June 27 with a special program open to those interested in attending. Area Grangers and several state officers are expected to be present for the 100-year event.

Festivities will get under way at 4 p.m. with a social hour followed by a chicken barbecue, historical slide show and dance featuring the music of the Richard Felt Orchestra.

Alder River Grange 145 was first organized in the mid-1870s, but surrendered its charter in the early 1890s. It was re-organized in June 1904 at Locke Mills (beside Alder River, thus its name) at the Mount Abram Hotel, which stood across from the present Round Pond Corner Store. State Grange Deputy W.S. Larabee was in charge of the meeting. Its charter was issued by the National Grange on June 27, 1904.

Since many of the organizers of the Grange were East Bethel people, it was decided on July 8, 1904, to build a hall on land donated by James Madison Bartlett of East Bethel. A building committee consisting of Fred B. Howe, Eugene Bean and George K. Hastings was appointed.

Funds for the construction were raised by card parties and suppers. Work on the building began in April 1905 and the structure was first used, according to the late Eva M. Bean, for a supper and dance on Nov. 16, 1905.

Since that time, the hall has served as a community center for East Bethel with countless dances, parties, socials, card parties, receptions, school reunions and classes, in addition to Grange functions.

Measuring approximately 52 by 24 feet, the hall was first wired for electricity in 1929. There was also once a stable in the back that was later moved to the Hastings farm in the 1930s.

During World War II, 21 members of Alder River were serving in the armed forces out of a total membership of 63. The Grange paid the dues of all those serving their country.

Probably the greatest period of Grange activity was in the 1950s when the order was involved in community projects and improving the hall. During this time, Alder River won several state and national awards for such projects as maintaining the East Bethel Cemetery, painting and repairing the East Bethel Church, providing milk for the East Bethel School lunch program, and building a new kitchen and shed for the hall.

Since 1979 when the 75th anniversary was celebrated, the Grange has observed its incorporation anniversary every five years. Improvements to the hall have preceded each anniversary and there has been new members added as a result.

First officers in 1904 were master, Frank Abbott; overseer, Henry Edson Bartlett; lecturer, James Swan; steward, Eugene Bean; assistant steward, Ormando Farwell; chaplain, Lizzie Bartlett; treasurer, May Farewell; secretary, Hester Kimball; Gatekeeper, Edgar Swan; Ceres, Linnie Abbott; Pomona, Carrie Bartlett; Flora Nina Swan; and lady assistant steward, Jennie Swan.

Officers elected in 2004 include: master, James Lowe; overseer, Peter Haines; lecturer, Ruby Meister; steward, Alvin Stevens; assistant steward, Nina Mollicone; lady assistant steward, Brenda Dyer; chaplain, Nina Grover; treasurer, Stan Howe; secretary, Nancy Mercer; Gatekeeper, Richard Carter; Flora, Lynn Mason Courtney; Pomona, Dot Boyce; Ceres, Betsey Foster; executive committee, Thomas Carter, Jarrod Crockett, Rodney Dyer.

Today members serve the community in various ways. The Grange supports a number of charitable organizations, holds public suppers and special events and sponsors an agricultural exhibit annually at the Fryeburg Fair.

Call Nancy H. Mercer at 824-3350, Jim Lowe at 824-3107 or Stan Howe at 824-2291 for more information.

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