Oceanside Grange, No. 260 / Rockingham Lodge, No. 22, I.O.O.F.

Chapter 23 -- Part 3

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Oceanside Grange, No. 260

One of Hampton’s oldest organizations, the Grange was formed October 2, 1897, with 15 members -- 11 men and 4 women. (Unlike many fraternal organizations, the Grange always has had open membership for both men and women.) Frank B. Brown was the first Worthy Master. Also called the Patrons of Husbandry, the national Grange was formed as a secret fraternal society to promote rural interests, to provide information on agricultural practices, and to offer educational and social opportunities for its members. In the farming town of Hampton, it soon became a popular organization.By 1909, it had 116 members and was a member of the East Rockingham Pomona Grange, which had 750 members. The state Grange then numbered about 30,000; approximately one in every 15 New Hampshire adults was a member. In February 1927, the Oceanside Grange, which had been meeting in various locations, announced plans to build a new Grange Hall on High Street. The organization was then the most active it had ever been, with 180 members. For its new hall, the Grange acquired Frank Mason’s barn, which then stood approximately on the site of today’s Hampton Co-operative Bank drive-up building at the east end of the High Street Town parking lot. The building was moved to its present site and remodeled. The Grange charged 40 cents per person for the first supper in the new hall in April 1929. When the hall was dedicated in September, every town in New Hampshire was represented among the 300 guests. The Grange burned the mortgage at a 1947 ceremony, the occasion of its 50th anniversary. In addition to the Grange, the building is also the meeting place for the American Legion.

Rockingham Lodge, No. 22, I.O.O.F.

This lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was chartered in 1848 in Hampton Falls, but it went dormant after four or five years. It was reinstituted in 1878. The new lodge drew its membership from. Hampton Falls., North Hampton., Hampton., Seabrook, Kensington, and part of Rye, and it soon outgrew its quarters in Hampton Falls. The Grand Lodge approved its relocation to Hampton, where it leased a lodge room in 1883 at Hampton Academy. A lot for a new hall was purchased for $1,000 from the Perry estate in 1893, but the members did not vote to begin construction until 1895, when low bidder (and lodge member) Abbott L. Joplin was awarded the contract to construct the prominent building that still dominates Lafayette Road in the middle of Hampton. The Odd Fellows Block was dedicated in 1896, and, the following year, its tower was raised to permit installation of the town clock. In 1909, the organization had a membership of 145. More than 200 people were present in 1948 for the 100th anniversary of the lodge, an event highlighted by the burning of the mortgage. In recent years, membership has dwindled to just a handful, although they continue to meet twice monthly. The building remains, however, as an important business block. For many years, the first floor was leased to various individuals as a pharmacy, then it became the offices of the Hampton Co-operative Bank and Tobey and Merrill Insurance Agency.
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