DURHAM – After nearly 14 years of bake sales, auctions, suppers, raffles, harvest sales and spring plant sales, Durham’s Eureka Community Center has finally taken on a new finished look.

But, people should not be fooled, there’s still much to be done, says Eureka Center Committee Chairman Milt Simon.

The 3,800-square-foot building, estimated to be around 200 years old, was once a farmhouse. In 1906 when the Eureka Grange No. 7 membership swelled to 200 and larger quarters were needed, the building was purchased and served as the Grange hall until 1990.

In those days, granges were the hub of social activity for young and old alike in New England, and when the Grange celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1956 it was still flourishing.

By the time the 75th anniversary rolled around in 1990, membership had dwindled, as in most Granges. Eureka Grange was disbanded for lack of active members and the town of Durham bought the building. It was located next to other town buildings and was considered a good investment.

At the time, many expected the town to demolish it and use the land. However, this was not to be. A small group of “visionary” residents saw the acquisition as an opportunity to renovate it into a much-needed community building.

Promising not to ask for any tax money, they said they would raise the necessary funds, seek donations of materials and labor, and would transform it into a community gathering place once again, a place that would make the town proud.

The group envisioned a community center where Boy and Girl scouts, senior citizens and town boards would meet, elections could be held there and it would once again become a hub of activity for all ages.

The committee also plans to have a room to house local cable access equipment so that live broadcasts of activities can be made from the building. It is currently being wired for that purpose.

A few weeks ago, with the help of a $7,500 grant from the Alfred Center Foundation in Brunswick and providing a 50 percent match, new vinyl siding was installed.

“Now we’re in a quandary – people think it’s done,” said Chairman Simon.

The building still needs a handicapped-accessible ramp, flooring, a suspended ceiling installed and painting done.

Breakout>

• The Eureka Center Committee meets at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month and encourages anyone interested to attend. Members hope to complete the first floor in time for what would have been the 100th anniversary of the Grange in 2006.

• Volunteer work nights are held at 7 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of each month. Anyone interested in helping is welcome. For more information on the project, call Milt Simon at 784-5286.


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