Great Falls Grange Foundation Town Hall Meeting

Provides update and a look ahead.

The Great Falls Grange Foundation, Inc. Board of Directors presented a Community Town Hall Meeting. Held July 27, Jorge Adeler, president and principal officer, and others provided a look back on the work that has been done since April 4, 2022, followed by current and next steps. April 4, 2022 marked when the Foundation, a nonprofit human services organization (ruling date 2019), assumed management of the craftsman-style Great Falls Grange Hall  No. 738 (1889), Forestville School, and the adjacent picnic pavilion through a public-private partnership with Fairfax County Park Authority. The lease agreement with FCPA permits the Foundation to operate and raise funds while FCPA retains property ownership.

Adeler announced the addition of two local arts organizations to the Foundation board, Arts of Great Falls and Great Falls Studios. 

The Foundation's board members are Bill Canis, Great Falls Citizens Association; Linda Thompson, Optimist Club; Nancy Knight, Rotary Club; Tom Tucker and Richard Kelley, The Arts of Great Falls; and Kim Abod, Great Falls Studios. John McGeehan, an attorney, serves as an at-large member. The Foundation reportedly established seven volunteer-staffed committees to focus on maintenance and preservation, landscaping, fundraising, historical research, children's programs, grant research, and performing arts.

Adeler introduced Julie Maher of Great Falls, the Foundation's program director. Before taking questions and comments from the audience, Maher gave a presentation. Documents can be viewed at

The Great Falls Grange Hall and Forestville School are listed as significant landmarks on the Virginia Landmarks Register (2004) and the National Register of Historic Places (2004). All Foundation projects, whether for preservation or maintenance, must be approved by the Fairfax County Board for Historic Properties and adhere to the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service's (NPS) Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. NPS states, "They (the standards) promote historic preservation best practices that will help to protect our nation's irreplaceable cultural resources."  

The goal of the Foundation is to transform the Grange into a community center with performances, programs, and events and ultimately reduce community use fees while ensuring its operational sustainability. Current rental prices of the structures, which are competitive with similar venues, are based on estimates of overhead expenses borne by the Foundation. Nonprofit community organizations will receive a discount.

All funds raised by the Foundation are used to enhance the experiences of those who rent the structures. The Foundation held the First Annual Great Falls Grange Foundation Gala on May 6, 2022, which raised $95,000 for improvements.

Regarding enhancements, the first phase of the approved landscaping project is completed with donated materials and labor. The planned connection to the county water line falls under the purview of preservation-restoration initiatives. Foundation board members completed FCPA's Mastenbrook Volunteer Matching Fund Grant Program application form. For projects in Fairfax County parks, the grant provides limited matching funds of up to 50 percent. The Foundation will be responsible for the $21,000 cost of installing the county water line. Lauren Liess/Property Collective would provide a concept design for the Grange Hall's interior spaces.

The total costs estimate, including the county water line additional improvements and expenditures, is $92,055. The projects planned for the Grange are to install a generator, touch-up interior walls, paint, and renovate bathrooms. The schoolhouse and the Grange require refinishing their wood floors, and the installation of air conditioning is needed in the schoolhouse.

Upcoming dates for some of the Foundations events:

* Thursday, Sept. 8, Grand Opening Celebration, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; 

* tentatively, on Sept. 23-24, For the Love of Great Falls Tag Sale; 

* Oct. 16, Oktoberfest; and 

* Dec. 3 and 10, Holiday Afternoon Teas in the Schoolhouse.

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