After a devastating fire and a prolonged rebuilding project, the Santa Ynez Valley Grange Hall’s completed renovation and reopening will be celebrated Sunday in Los Olivos.
The Grange will host a community open house at the hall, 2374 Alama Pintado Road, from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Refreshments will be served. Scrapbooks and history about the group also will be displayed.
“It’s been 10-and-a-half months,” said Shannon Casey, Grange worthymaster. “We want people from the community to be able to come in and see what the hall looks like like now.”
The Sept. 12 blaze essentially gutted the building that has hosted a variety of community events for years.
“The place looks really good,” Casey said. “It got a much-needed facelift.”
A few items remain to be completed. For instance, power washing failed to remove the soot from the building’s exterior so the outside walls have yet to be repainted.
The rebuilding effort required upgrades to meet today’s standards since the facility hadn’t been modernized in more than four decades.
Grange members raised funds for the project and held a chili cook-off in February. By Feb. 9, they had raised more than $30,000 for the project, more than halfway toward the $50,000 goal.
They ultimately raised enough to cover the group’s costs of the rebuilding effort, with insurance covering most of the expense.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department investigators later pinpointed the cause of the fire as being flooring, where a hot water pipe likely came into contact with the building’s framing and sparked the blaze.
That area of the hall was added in the 1960s and reportedly was the last remodeling project completed at the building.
The Grange Hall, originally built in 1948, long hosted key community events such as Day in the Country, Quick Draw and Olde-Fashioned Christmas. It also served as the meeting place for churches and clubs and even housed the Los Olivos library.
From the post-fire rebuilding project, the Grange Hall has gained a commercial kitchen with stainless-steel appliances and welcomed air-conditioning system. New floor, ceiling, windows, lighting that can be dimmed, insulation and bathrooms are just some of the additions.
There’s little left from the former building beyond main hall wainscotting that was sanded and refinished.
“Everything else is in the main brand-new and updated,” Casey said.
Grange officials believe the improvements will make the building more usable for community events and gatherings. Prior users are slowly returning to the building and Casey said the upgrades are attracting interest from new users, such as caterers enticed by the commercial kitchen.
“We’re really pleased with how everything looks,” she said.
A community theater program will rehearse and put on its production at the facility this month.
The Santa Ynez Valley Grange No. 644 was organized Feb. 23, 1937, by a group of folks who gathered at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School to start a local chapter of the agricultural organization to unite farming families and provide grassroots activism on their behalf.
The Santa Ynez Grange was the first organized in Santa Barbara County and the 316th established in California.
A founding member, Fred Lang, donated land in Los Olivos for a future Grange Hall and the group set a goal of $12,800 for the building project. They invested in U.S. Savings Bonds and later redeemed them to make the building a reality.