AUBURN — The Danville Junction Grange, a two-story structure in Danville Junction, was among three Grange halls nominated for historic status by Maine’s Historic Preservation Commission on Friday.

Christi Mitchell said Danville’s nomination, along with nominations for the Excelsior Grange in Poland and the Starling Grange in Fayette, will be sent to the Washington D.C.-based National Register of Historic Places. Mitchell said the commission reviewed the halls’ histories and recommended historic statuses at a meeting in Hallowell on Friday morning.

The national register will review the nominations and should announce a decision in two to three months.

“First and foremost, it’s an honor,” Mitchell said. “It means that the properties have been evaluated to have historic importance and be worthy of preservation. It means they have connected either to broad patterns of history or to historical events or they represent a good expression of architectural style or practice.”

The Danville hall was built in 1898. It’s plainly ornamented and features a front porch leading to meeting rooms, a dining hall and a kitchen. A main meeting hall and stage are on the second floor.

It’s the history of the group that really matters, said Stan Howe of Bethel, historian for the Maine State Grange organization.

“Hopefully, it means that people will take more interest in them and make them all more a part of our national heritage and history,” Howe said.

The Grange was a national fraternal organization centering on rural areas, also known as the Patrons of Husbandry. It started soon after the Civil War and membership rose and fell until World War II, when membership began to wane.

“The Grange was such an important organization in the 19th century and part of the 20th,” Howe said.”It’s still important to some people, but it was the center of rural people’s lives in the olden days. And they dominated the legislative process. Lots of things happened because of the grange.”

Most every agricultural community in Maine had an active Grange, which served as social and recreational centers for the more rural parts of the state, he said. Local Granges also kept track of insect infestations and other pests, reporting outbreaks to the Department of Agriculture.

The Danville Junction Grange was created in 1874 and organized by members of the Poland Grange, according to a 1974 history of the group. It was the fourth Grange created in Maine at the time and was one of six eventually organized in Auburn. Three still remain in East Auburn and North Auburn.

“There are several Granges that are on the national register,” Howe said. “I’m working on getting several more on now, too.”

Danville is at the junction of two railroad lines and contained a grist mill and several brickyards after the Civil War, according to Mitchell’s report.

Members of the Grange at first met in a hall above the community schoolhouse. They established a public library in Danville and a storehouse that sold grain and groceries to members during its formative years.

Once school enrollment there increased, the group was squeezed out of the schoolhouse and had to find a new home. The selected their current lot, at 15 Grange St., and built the hall for $1,923.45 in 1898.

Since then, the Danville Grange has been involved in building playgrounds, installing streetlights, organizing a volunteer fire department and building school bus shelters, according to Mitchell’s report.

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