In 1888, 34 people gathered at Green’s Store in Deer Isle to found Deer Isle Grange #296.
Over the years, the organization turned in its charter more than once, but reformed again and thrived. Since 1939, the Grange has operated continuously, until this April when its members returned the charter to the state grange organization.
The Deer Isle Grange’s days may be finally over now, said former Grange Master Jan Taylor, who served with the Grange from 1989 and served the last 11 years as Master.
“I wish we could get our charter back and start a good group,” said Taylor. “But I don’t think that will happen.”
Marilyn Sylvester, who has been involved with the Grange for more than 25 years, said it was too difficult to get enough members together for a meeting. A Grange meeting requires seven members. Sylvester said meetings were whittled down to three or four members.
“We had a good time while we were going,” said Taylor. The Grange has been an active part of life on the island for a long time, contributing to the community in a number of ways.
“You wouldn’t have paved roads if it weren’t for the grange,” said Taylor, who noted that Grange members petitioned the communities and state to get roads paved to facilitate getting farm fare to markets.
The Grange, too, was active in the suffrage movement, working to secure the right of women to vote.
More recently, the Grange has worked to support education through scholarships, did community projects at the Island Nursing Home and supported charities such as the Island Food Pantry and Ronald McDonald House.
The Grange sold its building more than a year ago to the Island Men’s Group, a Christian men’s group. Sylvester said it was written into the sale that the Grange could reconvene in the space if it wanted to.
Some members are joining other granges, such as the Halcyon Grange in North Blue Hill, or Arbutus Grange in Surry.