For years, Jess and Scott Hogan watched the old Gig Harbor Grange building deteriorate. They had a front row view of it from the adjacent property where they operate Artondale Farm.
The local Grange closed in 2011 and ownership of the building returned to the Washington State Grange organization. The Hogans, whose farm forms an L-shape around the grange property, approached the state group about purchasing the building and adding it to their farm.
“It broke my heart to see such a historic building in such disrepair,” said Jess Hogan.
After years of polite requests, the Grange agreed to sell the building to Artondale Farm in 2016.
That’s when work began for the Hogans.
History of the old Grange building
The building began life as the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1912 and its layout has the feel of a small community church. Ownership transferred to Artondale Gospel Lighthouse – Pentecostal in the late 1930s, according to a 2014 blog post by the Harbor History Museum.
It did not become a grange hall until 1956, when Gig Harbor Grange No. 445 bought the building and settled.
Grange is less well known now than it might have been then. Founded in 1867 as a fraternal and advocacy organization for farmers, the Grange developed into a force in the Midwest and western US.
The Washington State Grange predates statehood. Gig Harbor’s Grange No. 445 was founded in 1910, but did not have a permanent home until it purchased the former church on the corner of Wollochet and Artondale drives in 1956.
Membership dwindled in the early 2000s, however, as the group struggled to attract younger members and the character of the surrounding community changed. The building remained largely empty for five years after the closure of Grange No. 445 in ’11 until the Hogans finally got around to restoring it.
Artondale Farm buys the building
Given its agricultural roots, it’s only fitting that the building ends up part of a farm.
Getting the building to the point where it could be useful to the Hogans, however, took some time. The old grange serves as the farm’s retail store, full of items grown or made on the neighboring property.
But it was unable to do so when the Hogans bought it.
A family—perhaps several families—of squirrels had taken up residence inside. Bats lived in the belfry. The basement had suffered extensive water damage. The paint was peeling and the beautiful old wood floors needed resurfacing.
“It was a mess,” Jess Hogan recalled. “It took a lot of work.”
The Hogans spend their spring and summer operating a farm, so most of the work in the old barn takes place in the fall and winter.
They have achieved a lot in that time. Walls repaired, floors sanded and refinished, water damage repaired. New cladding has been installed around the windows. The family farm cats made quick work of the squirrels.
After a delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the building entered service as a farm shop in 2021 and has reopened this summer.
The Hogans are uniquely suited to take on this project.
Scott Hogan has a college degree in architecture and is a skilled carpenter.
Together, Scott and Jess restored a 1923 home in Southeast Portland before returning to Gig Harbor, where they both grew up.
Their Portland home and current project require a lot of research.
The Hogans looked at old photographs to find examples of period-appropriate ornate pieces, then emulated them in their reconstruction.
They also researched what interior and exterior wall colors would be appropriate for the era. The mustard-yellow exterior isn’t original — since the building began life as a church, it was predictably white — but the Hogans found photos of homes from that era with a similar hue.
The interior color matches the original. They found a patch of paint on the back of the building and took it to a paint shop that was able to match the shade.
“We want to bring it back to what it should have been when it was built in 1912,” said Jess Hogan, but with modern conveniences like electricity and indoor plumbing.
Looking at the interior of the building, she added: “This is what this building should look like. I don’t think it’s ever looked like this.”
How the building fits in with Artondale Farm
The hard work is paying off, as the building has made a significant profit for Artondale Farm.
Previously, the farm sold produce and other goods out of its parking lot as well as at farmers markets. Having a real storefront has been helpful, Jess Hogan said.
Selling products outside near a busy intersection can be problematic. Exhaust fumes and smells from passing cars don’t make the salad any tastier. The pair also sell non-farm items, including bath and body products. They can spoil if left in the heat too long.
Also for sale inside the former grange hall last week were jams, lavender sprigs, vegetables and herbs. Raspberries were almost ripe and ready for sale. A full variety of produce — including tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas — will be available “once Mother Nature gets with the program,” Jess Hogan said.
“It’s been great for business,” she said. “It’s allowed us to display a lot more things than when I was selling outside.”
The Hogans are interested in seeing photos from when the building was a grand hall, or even when it was a church. This will help with restoration efforts, and the Hogans hope to turn the entrance area into a mini-museum of sorts.
Anyone with such photos can contact Artondale Farm on [email protected], with text in (253) 313-3945 or in store, 5925 Artondale Dr. The shop is open from 11am to 5pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the growing season.