The Mount Lookout Grange in Mancos is 100 years old this year, and community members young and old will be celebrating on Saturday.
Grange staff members will be offering tours of the new commercial kitchen on Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at the Grange, 680 Grand Ave. There will be a presentation on the history of the Grange, and several guest speakers will share memories of the Grange from throughout its history, Grange Board Member Patricia Burk said.
Burk grew up in Mancos and remembers gathering at the Grange in the 1950s and ’60s, when it was the social center of the area.
“There used to be these organizations that glued the community together, and the Grange was one of those,” Burk said. “We are interested in binding the community of young farmers and people such as myself who have lived in the area as agriculture producers for many years.”
The Mount Lookout Grange was founded in Mancos on April 28, 1917, according to Mancos historian Greg Kemp. The building that currently houses the Grange was built in 1893 in the Cherry Creek area east of Mancos, according to Kemp.
The building was a school and then was Zion Lutheran Church until 1940. It was empty for several years until it was moved to its current Mancos location in 1946. The Grange purchased the building in 1950.
Grange membership declined in the early 1970s before the Grange became the home of the Mancos Head Start preschool program in 1974, according to Kemp. Head Start moved in 2013 after the Mancos Preschool was built on Walnut Street across from the school campus.
Though the Grange continued to own the building and hold meetings while Head Start was located there, only five people were Grange members by 2013, Burk said.
Cindy Greer, President of the Colorado state Grange, encouraged Burk and other members to revive the Grange in 2013, Burk said. Now, it’s used for various community events and is still focused on agriculture, though it’s changed quite a bit over the years, Burk said.
“In 2017 it’s very, very different than the Grange from 1917,” she said.
One speaker who will be featured on Saturday is Wally Patcheck, Burk said. Patcheck attended church in Cherry Creek when the Grange building was still located there, Burk said. Roma Ewing, who was also a member of the Cherry Creek church and participated in many events there, also will speak on Saturday, Burk said.
Another guest speaker will be Robin Lunders, who was Head Start Supervisor from 1979 to 1994, Burk said.
Mancos FoodShare Director Gretchen Groenke will speak on the newest addition to the Grange, a commercial kitchen that will be available for community use. The kitchen was constructed through a partnership with Durango community leadership group Tiospaye.
Burk said the Grange’s schedule is usually very busy. The current Grange board has been aiming to involve the community, Burk said, and she said they’re achieving that.
Today’s generation of young farmers has lots in common with the agricultural people who started the grange 100 years ago, Burk said. Community building is just as important now as it was back then, she said.
“It was the social center,” Burk said of the Grange. “We grew up in a wonderful time when Mancos had everything. ... In the 1950s and ’60s, we all gathered at the Grange. It was a glorious time to grow up in a little town.”