The Grange Hall was built by the Fabius chapter of the National Grange of the order of Patrons of Husbandry in 1923 and dedicated in 1924. The National Grange had been founded in 1867 as an association of farmers to promote the economic and political well-being of communities and agriculture. One of the National Grange’s major achievements was the establishment of rural free delivery of mail. The Grange had similarities with a fraternal order or lodge, as its meetings included rituals patterned after the Masons. But, unlike the Masons, women could be full members of a local Grange chapter. There were no related or auxiliary organization just for females.
The Fabius chapter, known as Fabius Grange No. 1495, was organized on March 9 and 11, 1911, with 53 members. It first met in rooms above the “news stand” on Portage Avenue in Three Rivers– at first twice a month and later monthly. It then moved to the third floor of a building later known as “TR Sales and Service”. In 1921, it moved to the Shaffer garage on South Main Street.
The members wanted to have a meeting place “in the country” so they arranged to buy, for $100, one acre from the Pentlins that was near the Township Hall. This location was considered near the center of the township. A committee of Bert Plantz, Arthur Ferguson, and Frank Fetterolf was appointed to draw up plans for the building, which was to measure 30 ft by 50 ft with an 8 ft high basement.
In order to build the new structure donations were received in materials and labor as follows: Mr Wortinger donated 3,700 ft of logs, 370 hours of labor, and $45 in cash; Brother Aaron Hagenbuch ( members were referred to as “brother” or “sister”) gave 3,000 ft of logs; Brother Raymond Krull donated 500 ft of lumber, 60 hours of labor; Ernest York gave 120 hours of labor and 500 ft of lumber; and the Pomona Grange (the state-level grange) donated $50. The membership authorized the Grange to borrow $1,500 (which was paid off by 1929).
By 1923, the basement was sufficiently complete so that meetings could be held there. Bench seats were bought from the Methodist Church in Three Rivers. Aaron Hagenbuch, after donating as much time as he could, was authorized to be paid $3 a day to complete work on the hall. To raise funds to meet expenses and pay off the loan, the ladies of the Grange gave talent shows as well as dinners and breakfasts. One year they had a lunch booth at the County Fair which netted $144.89.
The Grange Hall was dedicated on June 20, 1924. During that year square dances were held at the hall every two weeks and it could be rented (both floors) for $10. In 1925 a maple hardwood floor was laid on the upper level. The 1940’s were the hey days of the Grange, both socially and politically. But by 1961, when the chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary, membership and participation in the Grange dwindled as farming became more and more mechanized and consolidation into larger farms. This reduced the number of people engaged in farming. In 1969, the Fabius Grange No. 1495 sold its hall to Fabius Township . The remaining members continued to meet in members’ homes.
Charter given up?
Records are available in the Sue Silliman house museum