The future of the Franklin Grange Hall on Route 26 in Woodstock is on Monday’s annual Town Meeting warrant. The options are removing it or razing it and retaining the property. Woodstock Historical Society photo

WOODSTOCK — The 130-year-old Franklin Grange Hall received a one-year reprieve Monday when voters at the annual Town Meeting rejected an article to remove it or tear it down.

The vote was unanimous, Town Manager Vern Maxfield said.

Built in 1892 and unoccupied since 2017, the two-story building was purchased by the town, which set up a seven-member committee to discuss its fate. The hall has no foundation, lacks a septic system and does not meet code. It sits on prime real estate along state Route 26, between the Masonic Lodge and Whitman Memorial Library.

Article 8 on the warrant asked voters if they wanted to have the building removed or razed, but they decided to delay any action to give officials a year to consider other options, including a late offer to purchase the property.

According to Maxfield, one resident who argued against tearing it down said razing it would be like pulling a tooth from a beautiful smile.

About 40 residents attended the meeting, Maxfield said. Every article except the Grange building passed.


The only other article that generated much debate was one asking to amend the property maintenance ordinance to allow the code enforcement officer to bring any nuisance complaints to the Board of Selectmen before taking the matter to court.

Concerned with no definition on what constitutes a nuisance property, Planning Board members opposed the proposal, but residents overwhelmingly supported the change.

Voters also approved an addendum to the warrant that asked for approval to purchase a new plow truck. With a backlog of 18 to 24 months for delivery of a plow truck, Maxfield asked voters to start the process now because the town will need a new vehicle within two years.

Money for the truck will come from the reserve account.

Robert McQueeney was the only candidate for the open selectman’s seat. He succeeds Shawn Coffin, who stepped down after two terms.

Sonja Davis was reelected as a library trustee. Linda Stowell won the other seat, succeeding Edwin Howe, who retired after serving for 15 years.

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