The former Grange building at 58 Military Road (US Route 1) next to the Blaine Town Office is the official headquarters for the Central Aroostook Historical Society and is where we house and store the documents, photographs, artifacts and etc. of a local historical interest. Nathan Smith was instrumental in encouraging the Town of Blaine, which owned the building, to give the building and land to the Historical Society. When Mountain Grange #331 ended, the building was given to Blaine. Nate, a Selectman at the time, presented the idea to the Boad of Selectmen then to the townspeople at a town meeting. Everyone was in favor of the gift so in April of 2013 the deed was signed for the transfer.
The structure was built about 1948 after the time period when stone foundations were used. The foundation is a poured concrete (probably with large rocks for filler) broader at the base than the top and is very strong. There are buttresses on the back foundation wall for additional strength. Framing lumber is full cut rough material unlike the thinner planned framing lumber of today. The building measures 60 by 40 feet and is two stories high. The up stair ceiling is supported by the sidewalls plus one half steel rods dropping from the peak of each rafter to the center of the ceiling. This is how they achieved a clear span in the auditorium with no columns.
All in all we are very pleased to have the former Mountain Grange #331 for our Central Aroostook Historical Society headquarters. It has a long history and is in good general shape. We want to preserve this historical building for future generations.
In the spring of 2013 it was evident that the south side of the roof toward the East had leaked for some time. Dalton Scovil made temporary repairs which stopped the leaking. Dalton did not charge us for this considerable work for which we are thankful. It was obvious that the roofing material needed replacement. We applied for a grant from the Community Foundation and received $5,000 then received a donation from the Rotary Club of Mars Hill for $1,000. In October, 2014 Dalton's crew removed the old asphalt shingles and found some areas with the remnants of wood shingles which made the preparation for new shingles more difficult. The grant and gift money was used for this phase of the repair.
The remaining three sides of the roof surface now need to be replaced at an anticipated cost of between $17,000 and $20,000. There are no roof leaks at this time but each year more shingles blow off. We will need to conduct a major fund raising campaign for the new roof.
For a number of years the town of Blaine heated only the small former kitchen area in the lower level because the water entrance is in this area. A small mobile home type heater was used for this purpose. The Historical Society continued this practice for several years but we were concerned about this type of heater running unattended for extended periods of time. Last fall, 2015, the water company shut off the water at the main and we did not heat any of the building. All went well and this was a much safer condition. The building is insured through F. A. Peabody but we do not want to loose this historical building in good general shape to fire.
Since the entry for the former Grange building is split level, one must use stairs to go up or down stairs so there is no wheel chair access. This is the major reason that the town of Blaine stopped using the facility for town meetings. Also the entrance will need to be resurfaced in some manner to make it fire resistant before we can invite the public into the building on a regular basis.