The Star-Herald

Grange Hall could still be heart of community

It sits on an eastern slope alongside the State Road. Well over 100 years old, the building has watched as a town has grown and moved on. 

The Castle Hill Grange Hall no. 260 stands overlooking fields to the east. Nestled in a small hollow on the hillside, it is emblematic of a time when farming was the kingly sport. Witness to education, politics, and social activities, it is now under threat for being old and outmoded. 

Goodbye, history.

My own story took many turns in this building. It was here I cast my first vote for representation on the state and national levels. Here neighbors I heard of came forth to opine on issues far and wide. Here I began my photojournalism career. One brilliant town manager wanted to close a road. Nearly 100 people showed up — even Colin Lilly, who spoke from the heart as to why that road should not be closed. MacDonald road remains open to this day and now boasts several new homes. 

Even then, almost 40 years in the past, the community took pride in itself.

Were Castle Hill located along the coast it would be the venue for screeching fiddlers, pipes and drums, contra dancing and weddings, large and small. Now it hosts town meetings and remains an election center for the community. Sound of structure and outfitted with modern services, it has potential to be more.

Like so many old things, it is old. Being old is not a crime. There is wisdom in age. 

There is still use for this old building. It does not have to be demolished or removed from the scene. It can be honored and revered as a wise elder patiently accommodating the youngsters as they celebrate the exuberance of life. Why destroy history for a few paltry pennies?

Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television, later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.

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