By Marianne Lincoln
ELK PLAIN — Recently a friend contacted me concern because he saw a yellow sign in front of the Elk Plain Grange. Because the Grange is a historic building to those of us who are Elk Plain old timers, he was very concerned about it. I looked up the parcel and the Planning and Land Services (PALS) online permits (#983219). I also left a message with David and Mary Bryant.
The permit site noted this was the Grange being remodeled. Phew! It is NOT being sold.
David Bryant returned my call today and here is the story. On October 30, 2021, someone broke into the Grange and set 3 separate fires. The building was basically gutted. There was heavy smoke and heat damage. Luckily, it had been spotted by a passerby and was put out before it was burned down.
The building had insurance. Bryant said he did not know yet if the insurance will cover all the costs. The plans are completed for the work. The Grange is a 501c8, non-profit, but not charitable. They do have a foundation. If they fall short of needed funds to rebuild, this news source will let you know if donations are needed to help. At the moment, they are praying the insurance is enough.
There are a few hold ups before construction can begin. PALS is not the only source of the slowdown, there also had to be a Sheriff investigation of the arson. Hopefully they can continue to keep the building secure in this radically unpredictable age where homeless invade structures and cause heartache for owners.
And I know you are wondering – Why is the Grange a local historic building to old time Elk Plainers?
In 1915, Pierce County started condemning farms in the vicinity between Elk Plain and Roy. The farmers were forced off their property with little to no compensation so the County officials could donate the land for the establishment of Fort Lewis. (The site of the old County Road Shop on 224th and the Mountain Highway was an exception, where Ft. Lewis returned a speck of land to the County, because it was the only pierce on that side of the road once the highway was constructed.)
As the first wave of land condemnations happened, some farmers learned they could do or not do certain things and it helped them maximize what they got from the County for their property. The Grange was formed to organize these farmers in 1927, as the second wave of properties began to be condemned. The last of the property was condemned and deeded over to Fort Lewis was in 1942. Documents show that land considered potentially part of the military site went all the way to 22nd Avenue in Spanaway. If you live between Pacific Avenue and 22nd Avenue in Spanaway, you are lucky the Grange exists.