A Brief and Incomplete History of Things Named "The Grange"

 The backers of a Wood Village casino on the November ballot revealed yesterday the project's scope—and a name: The Grange.

The site of the proposed venture is the old Multnomah Kennel Club greyhound track, a once-vibrant Oregon attraction that is now a decrepit mess overgrown with weeds and blackberry bushes. The Canadian investment group Clairvest wants to turn the 31-acre plot into a resort complete with hotel, casino with 2,200 slot machines and 100 gambling tables, a water park, bowling alley, movie theater, restaurants, bars and hall for concerts and events.

(UPDATE, 4:27 pm: Not everybody is impressed with the Grange. The Oregon Citizens' Initiative Review Commission recommended against the fall ballot measure this afternoon in a 17-7 vote. "Private casinos could negatively affect the gaming revenues of the tribal casinos and the communities they support," the CIRC finding said.)

We'll explore the politics and economics of the proposed casino in coming weeks. But for now, let's talk about that name.

The Grange would seem to be meant to evoke associations with Grange Halls, the communal gathering centers run by the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. In other words: meeting rooms for farmers.

So a casino calling itself the Grange is roughly the equivalent of a video-game arcade calling itself the 4-H Center.

No surprise, then, that National Grange had calls in to the casino backers as soon as the project's website went live yesterday morning.

"We've already been in discussions with our trademark manager and their attorneys," says Amanda Brozana, the National Grange's spokeswoman. She says the National Grange may agree to license the name to the Wood Village casino backers for a fee.

"It's not necessarily a moral issue," she says. "We're a dry organization but we licensed a winery."

In fact, any number of projects looking for a little down-home, let's-go-raise-ourselves-a-barn authenticity have picked "Grange" as a name.

Here are a few previous Granges:

  1. The Grange Bank operates in Columbus, Oh.
  1. The Grange is a farm supply store in Issaquah, Wash. Check out its annual pet costume contest.
  1. Grange Restaurant and Bar is "the quintessential Sacramento restaurant experience."
  1. The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards is a winery in Canada. It offers wellness tours. "Guests will take home a keepsake monogrammed tasting glass. A half hour yoga session is available for an additional cost."
  1. Brooklyn Grange is a rooftop farm CSA in New York City. "Tomatoes are one of our biggest crops: we have 40 varietals planted. We are also growing salad greens, peppers, kale, chard, bac choi, herbs, carrots, radishes, beans, and many other exciting crops!" It is partially funded by Kickstarter.
  1. The Grange was a Frisbee golf course in Spotsylvania, Pa. It recently renamed itself the Blockhouse.