Cloudsplitter Foundation has awarded Whallonsburg Grange Hall in Essex a $10,000 grant for the next phase of the project to renovate and re-purpose Whitcomb’s Garage, the historic building and riverfront lot that sits directly across the road.
The Grange bought the property in December 2018 with the goal of developing it as commercial space for small businesses, artisans’ workshops, community space, retail store and parkland on the Boquet River. Cloudsplitter Director Chenelle Palyswiat delivered the check while touring the site.
The Grange itself was saved and renovated through a multi-year, volunteer effort and is now a community and performing arts center, open year-round. Whitcomb’s Garage was a used car showroom and auto repair facility in the center of the hamlet of Whallonsburg from the 1950s to the 1990s. When longtime proprietor Clarence “Narni” Whitcomb passed away in 2017 and the building went up for sale, a donor enabled the nonprofit Grange Hall to purchase it.
Volunteer-led renovations have reached the point where two commercial tenants, a blacksmith and woodworker, are expected to move into the building in early spring. Plans have been drawn up for the development of a retail store, studios, and a community room. The next phase of renovations are expected to get underway in 2020.
The Grange serves as a community gathering space for eastern Essex County, hosting concerts and plays, a film series, lectures, forums, and workshops, as well as private events. More information is available on their website.
Photo of Whitcombs Garage in Whallonsburg provided.