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Love Notes

Selle Grange Hall Back in Business

Geneva Meserve is thrilled. In fact, I’m sure that if she has the chance to meet Allyson Knapp and her mom Susan Weathers, she’d probably give them a great big hug in gratitude for the gift they’ve given to the Selle rural community where Geneva has lived for nearly 70 years after first moving here from North Dakota in 1938.

Allyson and Susan live in Coeur d’Alene. They proudly claim a longtime Idaho heritage, extending to Allyson’s great-great-grandfather who settled in Culdesac in the early 1900s. Allyson, the mother of three, owns an appraisal company in Coeur d’Alene, where her mom has served as city clerk for 20-plus years. As a creative visionary, Allyson has always loved to plan events, especially weddings. Susan loves history, and she’s had plenty of organizational experience in her professional life, including coordination of the annual Association of Idaho Cities Conference.

Late last year, the two women began negotiations with Steve and Leslie Apple for purchase of the Selle Grange Hall, located in the heart of farm country, approximately 10 miles northeast of Sandpoint off Hwy 95. Since then, they’ve completed the deal and have continued to restore the facility over the past several months. The building, originally known as Old Surby Hall and built in the early 1920s by Ed Surby as a dance facility for loggers next to his country store, will now serve as a center for weddings, anniversaries, and other special celebrations.

Naming their venture “Enchanted Events,” Allyson and Susan put together a few basic packages for groups wanting to use the facility. Possibilities are endless, however. Allyson is willing to work with each group in designing unique arrangements to fit individual needs.

“We are always excited to host any private event, whether it be an 80th birthday or a first, a family reunion or corporate Christmas party,” the Enchanted Events informational packet states. Additional specifics about rental and use are available by writing [email protected] or by calling 208-699-3333, 208-255-2426. Emphasis is on making each occasion reasonably affordable. “Each private event is unique in its own way, and this way we can come up with a price catered to your specific event. Or, you can give us your budget, and we can plan from there.”

Renting the former grange hall can include help with actual organization, Deejay services with Allyson’s husband Mark Knapp, catering, shuttling and essential items such as round tables, chivari chairs, linens, flatware, serving tables, etc. A beautifully restored kitchen has already caught the eye of local caterers who received a sneak preview during a private showing earlier this month. Allyson says the food preparers liked the set-up. The kitchen is designed for groups or caterers to bring prepared foods to heat up or to keep cool.

Upon entering the main hall, two gorgeous crystal chandeliers, a giant mirror on the far wall, a dance floor with deejay’s stand off to the side and a collection of round tables with chairs offer an immediate taste of elegance. Plans call for a park-like area outside shielded from road view by a wooden fence for outdoor activities.

Allyson’s eyes light up as she talks about the facility’s future possibilities where three generations of her family have already helped and look forward to pitching in wherever needed.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” she told me when I visited the old grange hall during their May 10 open house. “I love to plan.”

Susan, meanwhile, sees the venture as her retirement dream. “I wanted to do something I would enjoy and keep me active.” It looks like their combined dream will turn into reality as early as May 30 when Wood’s Crushing and Hauling of Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry will use the facility for an employee meeting. Allyson and Susan have also received several inquiries since the open house.

Meanwhile, Geneva Meserve is delighted to know that the hall will continue to be a facility available for the public. After all, many of the most important events of her life occurred in the building where the Grange served as the hub of the Selle community.

“We had our wedding shower, our 25th anniversary and our 40th and all things in between.” When Geneva says “all things in between,” she especially enjoys talking of times when she and Stan, her husband of 59 years, were growing up as teens in Selle. They would attend dances twice monthly on Friday nights after Selle Grange No. 313 meetings. In their parents’ minds, if they were going to Grange, that was okay.

“They would have Grange and then play records for the dance, which lasted about an hour. Bill Kinney, a Grange officer, would call the square dances,” she recalls. Geneva also remembers live music with Mrs. Cox playing the piano and Harriet Shadel’s dad, Walter Wood, on the violin. Usually 20-30 Selle community young people would show up.

“We danced in it until the floor wouldn’t take it any more,” Stan Meserve says. “They had to prop it up with posts. Then, the church probably reinforced it.” [Northside Baptist Church took over the building in 1989 after interest in Grange died out]. The windows are now at a lower level, but they were originally high off the ground because, as Geneva says, “you weren’t supposed to see who was in there dancing.”

The building also opened its doors to 4-H activities and Halloween parties.

“That hall got used for everything under the sun,” Geneva says. “I don’t recall us mothers having to pay anything to use it. We had to leave it as we found it. We did have to bring our own water in cream cans before the creation of the Oden water district.”

Now operating with running water and up-to-date facilities, the exquisitely restored Grange will surely attract a wider variety of clientele as music once again wafts through the countryside during the hall’s special events. Locals, like Stan and Geneva Meserve, who’ve experienced its past, however, are looking forward attending future occasions in the building which molded so much of their lives.

“I hope they have a lot of people use it,” Geneva told me after learning about its revival. A moment or two later, she was clasping her hands, thinking about the possibility of their 60th anniversary next May occurring inside that hall where their romance budded so long ago.

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Author info

Marianne Love Marianne Love is a freelance writer and former English teacher who enjoys telling the stories of her community. She has authored several books, the latest of which is "Lessons With Love."

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