Beginning with gold strikes in the 1860s and continuing through the homestead years into the 1920s, Montanans built more than 2,600 rural schoolhouses. Settlers squatting on Crow lands in the Fishtail Basin near present-day Dean began educating their children here in a one-room log cabin in 1894. The school served area children for twenty years, until fire gutted the building on a cold March day in 1914. Before fire engulfed the building, teacher Miss Schwenneker and the older children quickly removed all the furnishings, including part of the chalkboard. School resumed in a nearby granary. In 1915, Mary Doane and her great nephew Clarence Rich donated land for a new school and playground, and community members built a modern education building for Dean residents. The new school was nothing like the former dimly lit, rough-hewn log school. Polished maple floors, high ceilings clad with decorative (and fireproof) tin panels, a spacious cloakroom, tall windows flooding the room with natural light, and a small but comfortable, attached teacherage (apartment) transformed school, social, and civic life for the community. Children in grades one through eight learned together during the day, and on weekends and evenings community members gathered for parties, elections, lectures, and club and association meetings. Beloved teacher Delores Haas directed the school from 1954 until it closed in 1967. Since then the Dean Community Club has used the building for social events. A full rehabilitation in 2018 returned the Dean School to its original appearance.

Images

Dean School, Dean, MT Overview with Beartooth Mountains, looking south at Dean School Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Dean School. On file at the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, MT. Creator: Joan Brownell, photographer Date: May 2019
Dean School, Dean, MT View looking south at Dean School Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Dean School. On file at the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, MT. Creator: Joan Brownell, photographer Date: May 2019
Dean School, Dean, MT View looking south at Dean School main entrance and facade Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Dean School. On file at the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, MT. Creator: Joan Brownell, photographer Date: May 2019
Dean School, Dean, MT View looking northwest at east elevation and Dean School windows Source: National Register of Historic Places nomination form for Dean School. On file at the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, Helena, MT. Creator: Joan Brownell, photographer Date: May 2019

Location

1368 Nye Road, Fishtail, MT | Public

Metadata

Montana National Register Sign Program, “Dean School,” Historic Montana, accessed December 7, 2022, https://historicmt.org/items/show/3035.