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Cherry Brook Grange Offers the Town Its North Canton Building

Space could serve as gathering place for town, community organizations.

As it prepares to disband, the Cherry Brook Grange hopes to give the town a lasting legacy — a building in North Canton that can serve as a gathering space for the town and community groups.

The grange has offered to the town its building at 534 Cherry Brook Road.

The Board of Selectmen discussed the offer at its meeting Wednesday night but made no final decision.

Selectmen were unanimous in their thanks to the organization.

First Selectmen Richard Barlow said it would be a great resource for the town and other organizations, such as Boy Scout Troops.

The Canton Land Conservation Trust has also expressed an interest in utilizing the building for office space.

“I think it’s the kind of gift that will keep on giving,” Barlow said.

Later in the meeting, Steve Roberto added, “I think it’s a generous gift and a good opportunity.”

But selectmen also expressed concerns with some maintenance issues at the building.

The roof is nearly 20 years old and would cost an estimated $12,000 to replace, according to Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner.

In addition, there are other maintenance issues such as a damaged front door that has allowed water to seep in, causing some damage.

The town documented some other problems as well, including leaks around the chimney.

Selectman David Gilchrist said he was also grateful for the offer but had some concerns.

“I’m concerned with costs,” Gilchrist said, “The building needs a lot of work.”

There would be some ongoing costs as well, such as electricity. 

However, the building is structurally sound, Skinner said. It also has a kitchen on the lower level and large gathering space on the upper.

Cherry Brook Grange dates back to 1945, member Tim LeGeyt said. The building he said was built in 1956, 1957. The flooring and other items were salvaged from Winsted buildings ravaged in the Flood of 1955, LeGeyt said.

The town’s assessor documentation shows the property at a little more than 5 acres. LeGeyt said much of that is wetlands but added that the property is located near open space and perhaps could serve as a connection and provide parking.

The grange has been a fixture in North Canton. The organization raised the funds to build the current North Canton post office in the late 1950s, LeGeyt said.

It also hosted numerous agricultural fairs each year, often paired with a turkey dinner. Community service was another big part of the organization.

The building has also been the site of many meetings, Boy Scout functions and for numerous years was home to Canton Community Nursery School.

As far as the grange’s plans to disband, LeGeyt said the story is the same as it is with so many organizations. Membership has fallen below 30.

“It boils down to a difficulty in attracting new, younger members,” he said.   

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