Children first attended school in a log cabin at this site in 1882, the year the Northern Pacific Railroad completed its line through the Yellowstone Valley. The railroad brought growing numbers of homesteaders, and in 1904 the community replaced the old schoolhouse with this clapboard school. The two-story building expressed the homesteaders’ commitment to education and their faith that the area would continue to grow. The bell tower—a status symbol for early schools—had moral overtones; bell towers are most commonly found in church architecture. The large front porch added a homey touch. Two teachers taught fifteen children at Howard School in 1904. A 1916 addition expanded the first floor elementary classroom space to serve the children of settlers who arrived after the 1909 Enlarged Homestead Act. Children of Mexican sugar beet workers also attended the school. High school classes, including Latin, geometry, and chemistry, were held upstairs. Also upstairs was the teacherage, or teachers’ apartment. Howard closed the high school in 1932. Improved roads had made it easier for students to attend school in Forsyth while the Great Depression and declining enrollment had made it increasingly difficult to keep the high school open. In 1947, the grade school also closed and consolidated with Forsyth schools. After the formation of the Howard Community Club in the early 1980s, the Forsyth School District returned ownership of the school to the Howard community. The building continues to serve as a place for community gatherings, dances, club meetings, parties, baby showers, and family reunions.

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Old Highway 10, Forsyth, Montana ~ Private