Target Range Elementary School

Proximity to Fort Missoula’s target range gave the Target Range School its name. Area residents organized the school district in 1893. The Army built the first school, soldiers from the fort hauled the students’ drinking water, and many who attended were the children of officers. In 1907, the district built a new, gable-roofed, wood-frame building with a vestibule/coat room. A formal pedimented entrance referenced classical bastions of learning while a bell tower asserted moral authority. The classroom featured a bank of windows on the east wall. These windows allowed sunlight in while preventing “cross-lighting,” considered harmful for childrens’ eyes. The district added indoor bathrooms in 1935, enclosed the front entrance in 1948 (removing the classical columns), and constructed a girl’s locker room in 1972. After World War II, the area attracted young families and a record 50 children attended school here in 1946. To meet the rising demand, the district built a simple yet modern two-story brick addition in 1948-49, which included the superintendent’s office, a large upstairs classroom, a basement classroom/cafeteria and attached kitchen, and an enclosed glass vestibule entrance. By the early 1980s, even this expanded space was too small. Students dispersed to other districts until a new, twenty-room school was completed just east of the original building in 1992. Like many Montana schools, Target Range also served as a community center, providing space for card parties, community dances, elections, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever inoculations. In 2006, volunteers began restoring the deteriorating property to make it a community center once again.

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4095 South Avenue West, Missoula, Montana ~ Public