Filed Under Neihart

Neihart School

Founded in 1882, a year after the area’s first silver strike, Neihart was nearly deserted by 1887. In 1891, the Great Northern Railway laid track connecting area mines to the Great Falls smelter, and investors and miners rushed back. On a hill south of town, Neihart built a four-room school. The student population followed mineral prices, rising and falling, then rising, falling, and rising again. By 1939, the need for a larger school was obvious. World War II ushered in Neihart’s last boom; even before the U.S. entered the war, the market grew for strategic metals, including lead and zinc. The school board sold $10,000 worth of bonds, purchased a site, and contracted with Great Falls architect George Shanley. The board rejected Shanley’s original design for a two-story brick building as too costly, ultimately settling on a one-story T-shaped log building. Even that proved too expensive. The Works Progress Administration—a federal government program to combat unemployment—paid for the labor, but even so, the building cost double the original bond. Funding issues delayed completion until 1941, when 224 students enrolled in the new school. Built from logs harvested from nearby King’s Hill, the Rustic-style building featured running water, reliable heat, science labs, larger and more classrooms, and a gymnasium/auditorium. In 1945, the Great Northern abandoned its Little Belts line, leaving mines and concentrators without a way to transport ore. The population plummeted. The high school closed in 1963. In 1981, the 19 remaining elementary students also transferred to Belt School and the building became the Neihart Senior Center.

Images

Niehart School Niehart School. Front to side view of the building, facing southwest. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Kate Hampton Date: June 2002
Neihart School Neihart School. Side view of the building, facing northeast. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Kate Hampton Date: June 2002
Neihart School Neihart School. Overview of the school building, facing north from the west bank of Belt Creek. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Kate Hampton Date: June 2002
Neihart School Neihart School. Front view of the building, facing north to northwest. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Kate Hampton Date: June 2002
Neihart School Niehart School. Side view of the school building, facing west near Main Street. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Kate Hampton Date: June 2002
Niehart School Neihart School. Side view of the building, facing northwest. B&W. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Kate Hampton Date: June 2002

Location

200 South Main Street, Neihart, Montana | Public

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Neihart School,” Historic Montana, accessed December 2, 2022, https://historicmt.org/items/show/2818.