Gearing up to save The Grange

01/14/2011 9:59 AM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The 179 year-old Grange Hall on Sound Avenue in Northville is in serious need of repair.

The Northville community hall known as The Grange, which could need up to $150,000 in repairs, might soon get a boost from a local environmental education group  that has offered to host organic farming lectures there in order to help raise donations for the cause.

Jeff Frank of The Nature Lyceum said Tuesday his organization hopes to sponsor a series of ongoing free lectures at The Grange on organic living, gardening and cooking that would be offered free of charge, with a free will donation going to the upkeep of the hall.

Such classes, he said, would both honor the building’s history as a meeting place for farmers, but also help people learn cutting-edge ideas about stewardship of the earth.

The group has not yet set a schedule for the lecture series.

“We call it off-off-Broadway organic improv,” Mr. Frank said of the lecture series, which the Westhampton-based organization has offered throughout the Northeast. “We could start next week. It’s for the whole community. We don’t need anything.”

The hall, where members of the National Grange met in the early 20th Century to discuss farming, has also served as a school and as the original sanctuary of the First Parish Church since it was built in 1831.

It is owned by the First Parish Church, whose pastor, Dianne Rodriguez, called a Jan. 11meeting of local congregational churches and also invited members of the public who have an interest in seeing the historic hall preserved.

About 10 people showed to the meeting, which was held at the nondescript white building as a winter storm was approaching, at which members of other churches shared their experiences on the fundraising front. Although the pastor explained that renting the space and applying for grants may be the preferred option, since the congregation — about two dozen in all — has such limited resources.

Pastor Rodriguez estimates the hall needs between $100,000 and $150,000 in repairs to enable the community to use it for group dinners and other large-scale events. The final price tag depends much on whether the sagging floor in the upstairs community room will need major structural work.

The hall is currently used as a homeless shelter for Maureen’s Haven on Monday nights and as a site for lectures by The Nature Lyceum. It also serves as a meeting hall for a support group and quilters group.

In December, spurred by the need for a fire marshal inspection to continue using the hall for the homeless shelter, Pastor Rodriguez began soliciting help from the community to restore the building.

Though the hall passed inspection, it still needs to be better insulated and a commercial stove donated to the church cannot be installed until the church builds a fire suppression system that will likely cost between $15,000 and $20,000, he said.

Pastor Rodriguez has been working with an engineer, John Condon of Mattituck, who is preparing a list of the building’s needs, and with contractor Kevin Stakey who is scheduled to examine the joists on the second story this week to determine whether the floor is structurally sound.

If the entire floor needs to be restored, said Pastor Rodriguez, the work could cost as much as $40,000, but if the damage is minor, repairs could be as little as $2,000 to $3,000.

Currently, there are pews, a stage, an organ and a piano on the second floor, but Pastor Rodriguez said a dance studio would like to rent the space. Mr. Stakey has offered to fix the floor before the dance studio starts holding practices there, allowing the church to pay back the loan with the rent money from the studio.

Pastor Rodriguez is now looking for community members with knowledge of both The Grange and the process of landmarking public buildings, since the historic building is a natural candidate for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. If it were included, she said, it would be eligible for many preservation grants. But to do so, her small congregation needs help from the community at large.

Pastor Rodriguez cited the parable of a deaf frog, who fell into a pit so deep that all the other frogs who didn’t fall kept yelling down at the frog to stop trying to jump out of the hole, saying he was going to die. The deaf frog didn’t hear the other frogs, and kept jumping until he leapt out of the hole.

That kind of faith, she said, would be needed if the congregation was to go forward with their plans to revitalize The Grange.

“We need angels,” said Mr. Frank.

[email protected]



7 Comment

  • Kevin’s name is spelled Stakey

  • Wow !!! What a style ! I love this designer and NOVELTY House. all shapes and size, now a days you can expect the unexpected.

  • When he shut down the sustainability college, Stanley said it was because the university couldnt afford to provide residential & student services. Now that theyre opening the college & dorms to other students & will have to provide those services anyway, what was the reason for all the chaos & disruption to the sustainability students & the devastation of all that had been created & achieved at that campus? Was it just to get rid of a program that the new president didnt care about? it looks like all the university did was wreak havoc, disrupt lives & students’ academics just to change programs, when they could have easily ADDED those arts programs to the existing school that was already there. Such wasteful mismanagement & disregard for students.

    SUNY already has an entire college dedicated to the arts – SUNY at Purchase, NY. Yet it no longer has a college dedicated to sustainability when that is the hottest topic & where the jobs are growing. In times of tight budgets, is it prudent for SUNY to duplicate another arts college while ignoring the fact that NY doesnt have a college for sustainabilities studies? Southampton’s campus should offer the arts & music & other programs that any college has, but the sustainability program needs to be at Southampton too. Students cannot study sustainability without the environment that was their laboratory.

  • Thank you Karl Grossman, thank you Senator LaValle, and thank you Assemblyman Thiele.

  • The problem remains that there are no hard sciences. When the college was to open originally, it had a full science curriculum as part of the environmental program. Then the other state environmental college at Syracuse objected and the curriculum at Southampton was gutted and the academic dean left. Unless the original curriculum can be restored, Stony Brook Southampton will not be a serious place. The model should be Huxley College of West Washington University, which has a terrific faculty who teach and do serious research.

  • What science classes were gutted from the current curriculum?

    I see 2 semesters of calculus, 2 semesters of Chemistry, 2 Biology classes, a physical biology class, and Physics, plus statistics:

    Coastal Environmental Studies – Just one of the Sustainability majors

    : Foundation Courses (34-35 credits)

    MAT 125/126 or MAT 131-C Calculus (8-9 credits)
    CHE 131-E/133 and CHE 132 General Chemistry I and II
    SBC 111 Introduction to Sustainability Studies
    SBC 113-E/114 Physical Geography (4 credits)
    SBC 201 Systems and Models (1 credit)
    SBC 205 Introduction to Geospatial Analysis (1 credit)
    BIO 201-E Fundamentals of Biology: Organisms to Ecosystems (3 credits)
    BIO 204 Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry in the Biological Sciences (2 credits)
    ENS 119 Physics for Environmental Studies (4 credits)
    AMS 102 Elements of Statistics


    C: Core Courses (29 credits)

    MAR 333-H Coastal Oceanography (3 credits)
    ENV 315 Coastal Groundwater Hydrology (3 credits)
    ENV 316 Coastal Zone Management (3 credits)
    SBC 313 GIS Applications and Design (4 credits)
    ENV 320/321 Chemistry for Environmental Scientists (4 credits)


    As part of the Core Requirements students are required to select 9 credits from Group A and three credits from Group B:

    GROUP A: Environmental Studies Electives
    BIO 351-H Ecology (3 credits)
    BIO 352 Ecology Laboratory (3 credits)
    EDP 305 Risk Assessment and Sustainable Development (3 credits)
    ENV 304-H Global Environmental Change (3 credits)
    ENV 340 Contemporary Topics in Environmental Science (3 credits)
    ENV 317 Coastal Pond Algal Ecology (3 credits)
    ENV 487 Research in Environmental Science (1-3 credits)
    ENV 405 Field Camp (3-6 credits)
    MAR 303 Long Island Marine Habitats (3 credits)
    MAR 304-E Waves, Tides, and Beaches (3 credits)
    MAR 315-H Conservation Biology and Marine Biodiversity (3 credits)
    MAR 336 Marine Pollution (3 credits)
    MAR 388 Tropical Marine Ecology (4 credits)
    EHI 310 Restoration Ecology (3 credits)
    ENS 380 Stony Brook in Tanzania: Lake Victoria Environment and Human Health (4 credits)

    GROUP B: Environment, Society and Policy
    SBC 309 Global Environmental Politics (3 credits)
    SUS 341-H Environmental Treatises and Protocols (3 credits)
    SBC 307-K(4) Environmental History of North America (3 credits)
    SUS 342-HEnergy and Mineral Resources (3 credits)
    EHI 340 Ecological and Social Dimensions of Disease (3 credits)

    And there is more!

    As part of the degree requirements, students will work in teams with students enrolled in related majors to solve problems collaboratively. Students are encouraged to take advantage of independent research opportunities, internships, and field camps to gain real-world experience.

    “With grounding in courses ranging from marine science to ecosystems and environmental policy, the Coastal Environmental Studies program aims to create scientists and leaders alike. Students not only have Long Island’s oceans and bays from which to learn – with vessels leaving the campus Marine Station daily – but also area aquifers, Central Pine Barrens and the 82-acre Hamptons campus itself, full of rare plant and tree species.

    “ Eastern Long Island provides the perfect laboratory to address the precarious nature of our world’s coasts, and to help us seek to find solutions before it’s too late,” said program faculty director Dr. Michael Sperazza. “This really exemplifies acting locally while reaching globally.”