"The state moved it; that's when they put Route 22 in," said Ron Jackson, supervisor of the Town of Essex, encompassing the hamlet of Whallonsburg.
For nearly 100 years, Grange 954 remained a central gathering place for dances and bingo games, shows, meetings and election dinners.
"That's how I remember the grange," Jackson said of the restored high ceilings.
"When Ken Richter every year used to show his travelogue film, the balcony was the best spot to be. I have some fond memories from there. Once they put that (drop) ceiling up, nobody went up there anymore."
The entire project is unfolding under the auspices of four organizations: Whallonsburg Civic Association, Friends of the Whallonsburg Grange, the Essex Community Fund and the Town of Essex.
"Ted Cornell has kind of been the glue that has held them together," Jackson said.
Cornell, an artist, director and arts innovator from nearby Wadhams, has spent 40-hour weeks for months reinventing a Grange Hall.
"This process feels like an old favorite rediscovering its youth. People come in while we're working and recall the square dances, the bingo games, the concerts, plays, budding romance and occasional fights in the parking lot."
There is still a year's work ahead, as the Grange committees begin working with Adirondack Park Agency to site a new septic system.
"We are still fundraising and have some big volunteer work days ahead," Cornell said.
"The next big step will be the party celebrating the new ceiling."
Work crews are needed in the coming days to help paint and tackle smaller construction projects, ahead of the Whallonsburg Idol contest starting in late June.
Rita Fitzgerald, president of the Civic Association, has organized a small kitchen committee to oversee upgrades bringing the grange kitchen up to Department of Health standards.