PORT TOWNSEND — There was a time when the Quimper Grange hall was filled with frolic: line dancing, folk dancing, partner dancing mixed many a night with music- and friend-making.
That time will come again, the Grange guardians promise — starting with an event this Saturday.
It’s called the “Fresh Air” open house, and the organizers aim to show the surrounding community the 101-year-old hall’s new ventilation system and remodeled space.
Music jams, light refreshments and free plant starts are also part of the party from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Quimper Grange, 1219 Corona St., off Umatilla Street.
Admission is free, but “we won’t turn away donations,” quipped volunteer coordinator Kathy Ryan.
It’s of paramount importance that people know the building is safe, said Sheila Long, Quimper Grange president.
The new air-circulation system uses a dedicated outside air supply and dispersed air filtration with MERV13 filters, she noted; it adheres to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers’ COVID-19 recommendations.
The system was installed according to state requirements for outdoor air supply for the whole hall, Long said, adding that the grange leadership chose quiet yet powerful fans for the building.
“We can have acoustic concerts,” along with lectures and other programs, she said.
Saturday will be a day when local musicians can get together again, added George Yount, grange secretary.
“We’ll have an old-time fiddle jam out back and a blues jam in front,” he promised. Masks will be required indoors but not outdoors, while visitors will have a chance to see the grange’s food bank garden up close.
The plant starts up for grabs at the open house include tomatoes, broccoli and Brussels sprouts free for the taking, added Barbara Tusting, a coordinator of the garden.
On the hall’s horizon: partner dancing classes taught by veteran teachers Cheri Van Hoover and Doug Groenig and line dancing with Vickie Townsend, among other dance programs.
The hall is available for rent for one-time and ongoing events, Long added, noting that details are provided at quimpergrange.com. Rates range from $40 for a single event of up to four hours and $150 for up to eight hours to $200 for up to 12 hours. For activities that happen weekly, it’s $40 to $60 depending on duration. A $30 COVID cleaning fee will be added until further notice.
As for dances, “we’re trying to ease back in,” said Groenig, vice president of the grange.
“The dance floor is 1,500 square feet,” he noted, adding that the current occupancy limit is 50 people — “only 25 or so if dancing,” and that will increase as county Health Department rules allow.
Remodeling had already begun when the pandemic hit. Early in March 2020, the grange hall closed its indoor space and paused the work. The officers then applied for a COVID relief grant from the Jefferson Community Foundation, and received a $4,900 award toward the modern ventilation system; grange supporter and retired engineer Phil Burwell worked on the design.
Besides the fresh air, the two bathrooms and the kitchen have been reconfigured, Long added. The restrooms have grab bars and touchless lights and fans, while the interior paint and flooring are likewise new.
As an organization, the grange is all about “community connection and resilience through educational programs and social events,” while nourishing a vibrant music and dance community, according to its website.
To that end, the organization seeks to grow its membership and volunteer corps. The hall needs people with ideas for programs and events, people who can work with Google docs, websites and social media, and people who’d like to work in the garden. The grange’s plots supply organic produce to the Jefferson County Food Banks — delivered without fossil fuels thanks to bicyclist Juri Jennings, aka the Peddler.
For information about volunteering in the garden, email Tusting at [email protected].
In her invitation to Saturday’s open house, Long expressed thanks for the contributions that have seen the grange through to this point. Donation checks may be mailed to Quimper Grange, 1219 Corona St., Port Townsend, WA 98368.
“I can’t wait to see you all again,” she added.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]