Historic floor at Hurricane Creek Grange to be replaced

Hickory or oak likely to take the place of red fir
Kathleen Ellyn

Wallowa County Chieftain

Published on March 6, 2018 2:51PM

Daerrell Witty of Hurricane Creek Grange demonstrates the problem with the nearly 100-year-old hardwood flooring at Hurricane Creek Grange.

Kathleen Ellyn/Chieftain

Daerrell Witty of Hurricane Creek Grange demonstrates the problem with the nearly 100-year-old hardwood flooring at Hurricane Creek Grange.

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Maybe they don’t make ‘em like they used to, but Hurricane Creek Grange is planning for a new floor that will last like the old one.

The flooring in Hurricane Creek Grange 608 is nearly 100 years old. The quarter-sawn red fir floor has supported thousands of weddings, birthdays, meetings, dances, community potlucks, bingos, bunco sessions and club dos over the century.

“If floors could talk, this one would be saying we have the best community in the world right here in Wallowa County, because it has so many functions there: slumber parties, birthdays, it just has happy memories for the whole community,” said grange member Barbara McCormack.

But it’s time for a replacement.

The old floor can’t be refinished one more time. Back in the ‘90s, a flooring professional informed grange members that the tongue and groove portion of the boards had become so thin that the boards couldn’t withstand refinishing.

“They screened and waxed it,” said grange member Derrell Witty. “I think that means scrubbed and waxed. That’s held up really well.”

Astonishingly well.

But nearly 30 years later, those thin edges have become long splinters.

So, in advance of the 100-year celebration coming up in 2023, the grange has put aside $6,000 to match hoped-for grants.

It will cost the grange between $18,000 and $25,000 to replace the floor with hardwood. The original idea was to us more red fir, but they were told are no red fir trees large enough to quarter-saw, McCormack said.

And new-growth red fir doesn’t carry the color that the old growth did. So, grangers have sought the council of professionals including Jared Bedard at Carpet One in Enterprise.

The latest idea is to use hickory or cherry oak. Hickory has a hardness rating of 1820. Oak has a hardness rating of 1300. Red fir has a hardness rating of 450. It’s an upgrade to go to a hardwood, but given the performance of that old quarter-sawn red fir, it’s going to have to be a heck of a hardwood.

Most of the bids are in, Witty said, and most are from local contractors. One more bid will come from a west side professional (with relatives in the county) by next week — and then the grant-writing begins.

Wildhorse Foundation is a likely starting point.

“They’ve been very good to us,” said McCormick. “They were instrumental in our upgrading the electrical and getting our gardening shed.”

Union County granges pooled to find another source for a grant large enough to divide between the various granges in that county. Wallowa County granges have been in conversation about creating a similar combined grant-request.

They’ve got five years to make it happen. And in the meantime, no sock hops at the grange hall.


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