Pine and fir surround the clearing upon which this little-changed landmark has stood since 1915. At that time, the Anaconda Copper Mining Company located its logging operations in the Ninemile Valley. Stark School was built in anticipation of population growth on land donated by homesteaders Frederick and Jessie Proebstel. The new school opened its doors to twelve students early in 1916. One teacher had charge of the two classrooms housing grades one through eight and, by 1920, enrollment of eighteen required hiring a second teacher. The building also long served as the heart of the community. Ranchers, miners, and loggers held meetings here. The basement hosted Saturday night dances and Sunday church services were held in the classrooms. During World Wars I and II, it was a place to catch up on news and socialize. Native fieldstone and clapboard illustrate the shift from log to frame construction that signaled the end of the frontier era. Natural materials, a low pitched roof, projecting eaves, and bands of windows reflect the Craftsman style then favored in “modern” schoolhouse design. Although the school closed in 1929, the building remained in use and was renamed the Ninemile Community Center in 1949. Even today, the bell, still in its original tower, is occasionally rung to mark special events. Only a few buildings related to the era of miners, loggers, and homesteaders of the Ninemile Valley stand today. Among them, Stark School is not only a classic example of post-frontier schoolhouse design, but also a fitting tribute to those hearty settlers who made their home here in the Valley.

Images

Stark School
Stark School Stark School. Front view of the school building, facing northeast. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Michael A. Nash Date: Aug.-Sept. 2005
Stark School
Stark School Stark School. Front to side view of the school building, facing north. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Michael A. Nash Date: Aug.-Sept. 2005

Location

Ninemile Road, Ninemile Valley, Huson, Montana | Public

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Stark School,” Historic Montana, accessed April 14, 2024, https://historicmt.org/items/show/1665.