At first glance the large gray ashier building in South Range looks to be some type of fire hall, thanks to a large central arched opening residing within its facade. Its grand edifice and sandstone foundation seemed to suggest some type of municipal function, perhaps even a town hall. The building’s real identity was that of a meeting hall – one built by the local South Range chapter of the Finnish Socialist Federation.
The South Range Socialist Hall – as it would become known – took three years to build. The property was first purchased by the local chapter of the Western Federation of Miners, but in 1910 would end up in the hands of the Finnish Workingmen’s Association. By the time the finished hall was complete in 1913 it was the Finnish Socialist Federation whose name was on the deed. Inside could be found a meeting hall, office space, and a performance stage complete with scenery space.
The existence of such a hall was owed to the unique nature of South Range being an independent community not controlled by any mine company. In fact this was the third such hall in the village – joining the Temperence Hall (also known locally as “Socialist Hall”) and the Kaleva Temple. Such a concentration of perceived “socialist” locations helped make South range a hotbed of both union and anti-union activity during the strike of 1913.