916-800-2099 info@crescentgrange.org     

History of the Grange

The Grange, known officially as the Patrons of Husbandry, was a National Organization started in our Nation’s Capital in 1868. Its original purpose was to give support to farmers and farm communities after the Civil War. Local chapters spread quickly across the United States and Grange Chapters were established in Colorado in the 1870’s. 

The Grange was established in the form of a Fraternal Organization, with rituals, secret passwords, and such, which was very popular in the late 1800’s. But from the very beginning, women and teens over the age of fourteen could be full members and could hold any and all offices in the Chapter. So from its very inception, equality was a cornerstone of the organization.

Grange’s became community centers and central hubs for their respective towns. It was quite common for a Grange Hall to be used as a gathering place for celebrations, parties, weddings, square dances, music, presentations, speakers, classes, and ceremonies. 

Broomfield’s local Chapter (called a Subordinate Grange, as contrasted to the State Grange or National Grange) was chartered in 1898 and called the Crescent Grange. In 1915 the Crescent Grange Chapter incorporated, sold stakes at $10 per share, to finance the construction of their own Grange Hall. Land was donated by Adolph Zang, the brewer and owner of much land here in Broomfield. And in 1916 the current Crescent Grange building was built. The area where the Hall was built was called Zang’s Spur, for the railroad spur to his land. The earliest Grange Members were the Zangs, the Brunners, and the Churches (of Church Ranch.) 

The National Grange organization, which was now representing a significant number of farmers across the Nation, lobbied the Federal Government in Washington for various needs of farmers and those that lived in rural areas. One of their accomplishments was establishing rural free mail delivery in 1900. Another accomplishment was was providing insurance for farmers. The Crescent Grange was providing insurance for local farm families, and buying clothing in Denver to sell it at reduced prices here in Broomfield.

In the year 1924, the National Grange achieved its 50th Anniversary. And in its fifty years, only one scandal besmirched the organization. In 1922, the State Grange store went under due to bad management and embezzlement. In response to that incident, mandatory assessments were made on all subordinate Granges. Caveat: the amount that was stolen was fully paid off by 1941. 

During the Great Depression, the National Grange helped the Crescent Grange remain solvent. On the National level, in the 1930’s, Junior Granges were started and quickly expanded. During this time Women’s Activities and Home Economics topics were becoming popular. The Crescent Grange began to create yearly scrapbooks and membership grew. Caveat: we still have several scrapbooks in existence on the property, which we display for our various Historic Tours. The Statewide concerns at that time were taxes, road improvements, and highway safety. With the growing increase of cars in America, farmers were becoming concerned with moving their heavy farm equipment along country roads.

The 1940’s were a time of greatest prosperity and growth. The collective  State Grange membership was at an all time high of 12,000 people. During the War Effort, as most of Colorado was agrarian at the time, there was a desperate need for food supplies, both at home and for the troops abroad. Many farm workers were given draft deferments, so Colorado farmers could maintain our high levels of food production.

In the 1950’s, with a declining farm population, the emphasis of the Grange became community service and youth activity. The following decade there were youth and junior camps. (Caveat: some Granges still provide youth and junior camps). It was at this point in time that it was established that every third year the Annual State Grange Convention was to take place on the Western Slope. 

In 1967, the Maple Grove Grange (Wheat Ridge) won the national sewing contest, with a $1000 prize. Dorothy Chambers of Crescent Grange won in the Art, Photography, and Crafts area. At this time the Crescent Grange rented to many community groups, made donations to Bal Swan School, and helped renovate the Lakeview Cemetery.

By the 1970’s, the population had grown to 2.21 million and Colorado farms were declining in number. Over 800,000 acres were set aside for recreational use, urban development, and highway use. This was followed by the emergence of the new farming conglomerates, which the Grange opposed. There was also a new sector with the emphasis on ecology and recycling programs. 

During America’s Bicentennial in 1976, there were many celebrations at the Grange and in the region.

The Millers of Broomfield were very active and influential in the Grange. Terry became State Overseer (V. P.), and Secretary of the Grange Mutual Fire Insurance Company. Joan organized the Colorado Grange State Chorus. Jim was assistant to the State Grange Master (President). Patricia worked in the State Grange office. And all were active in youth work.

In the 1980’s, as it became more possible for women to hold jobs outside of the home, with the new possibility of a career and their own income, and more men moving into white collar employment, the Grange began to fade. 

Fun Caveat: Square dances at the Granges were very popular.

In 2008 a new group of Grangers began at the Crescent Grange. The new members began to revitalize the building, the organization, the property, and the unused back lot. This new group of Grangers created a community garden, repainted the building, replaced the roof, some of the plumbing, and lighting. 

In the summer of 2010, with this new vitality, the Grange Members transformed the garden into the permaculture model with the addition of several bee colonies on-location. 

Permaculture is an approach to land management and settlement design that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing natural ecosystems. It includes a set of design principles derived using whole-systems thinking. It applies these principles in fields such as regenerative agriculture, town planning, rewilding, and community resilience. Permaculture has many branches including ecological design, ecological engineering, regenerative design, environmental design, and construction. It also includes integrated water resources management, sustainable architecture, and regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems. It shares many practices with agroforestry and agroecology, emphasizing their social, cultural, and economic contexts.

The new permaculture gardens, with the bee colonies, attracted an active group. The garden was quickly prolific and produced enough produce to provide for all of our members and include donations of fresh produce to local Broomfield FISH. 

The last couple of years have seen a growing number of new members contributing to an amazing, thriving, rich garden. Which is reflected in the pictures on our Instagram account – https://www.instagram.com/broomfieldgrange/ 

As more people are looking for safe spaces to garden, hold events, and connect to community, the Crescent Grange is seeing a resurgence of membership. We currently rent the space to a martial arts group, a yoga teacher, and a myriad of special event renters, concerts, plays, lectures, and so on. A beautiful community space, which it was always meant to be!