Howard Lepper Memorial Hall

Over three hundred people from the Flatwillow community attended the grand opening dance of the partially completed Howard Lepper Memorial Hall on June 28, 1921. A few days later, the community held a July 4 celebration, welcoming residents from all over the county. The event included a tug-of-war, beauty contest, picnic dinner, politician’s speech, and dance. A reporter from the Winnett Times described the Flatwillow community as “one large family” and declared that their new gathering place was a fitting tribute to Howard Lepper. Lepper, a Flatwillow resident and cashier at the First State Bank in Winnett, died of the Spanish flu in 1918 at age thirty-four. His uncle, Benjamin F. Lepper, donated $1,000 toward construction of the hall, which in turn brought numerous smaller donations from the community. Shortly after the hall was officially complete, tragedy struck when it mysteriously burned to the ground on May 3, 1926. Undeterred, Flatwillow residents moved rapidly to rebuild “bigger and better,” holding the first dance on the subfloor less than three months later. The new stage was centered on the wide side of the building, creating a much larger dance floor. When fully finished in 1929, the Craftsman-style hall featured exterior stucco walls and an interior tin ceiling (for improved fire safety). Since then—with only a brief closure during World War II—this historic hall has served, and continues to serve, its community as a welcoming place for celebrations, gatherings, and public events.

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Flatwillow, MT ~ Public