Kate Fratt Memorial Parochial School

When David Fratt died in 1912, he left his extensive land and livestock holdings to his wife Kate. Kate sold his cattle company and invested the proceeds, becoming one of Montana’s wealthiest women. A devout Catholic and dedicated philanthropist, Kate purchased twelve lots near St. Patrick’s Church for a parochial school in 1917. She died a year later and, among bequests to St. Patrick’s Church, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Billings Poly Technic (now Rocky Mountain College), and the YWCA, she left $100,000 to build and maintain a new Catholic school. The noted Montana architectural firm Link and Haire designed the “entirely fire proof” school in blond “iron spot” brick. Paying “particular attention … to lighting and ventilation,” Link and Haire’s plan provided “for a complete change of air in all rooms every 10 minutes.” The design paid tribute to the Catholic Church’s history and the building’s educational mission with a seamless blend of two architectural styles. The school’s Italian Renaissance Revival details include a low-pitched, hipped, tile roof; deep, overhanging eaves; and decorative concrete brackets. The Collegiate Gothic entrance, with its steep gable roof and concrete pinnacle, adds a vertical element while incorporating an architectural style often seen on university campuses. Sister Mary Dolores of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth served as principal when the school opened to 170 students in 1919. In 1950, a record seven-hundred students attended the school. The Kate Fratt Memorial School closed in 2017, and in 2020, a historically sensitive rehabilitation transformed it into condominiums.

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235 N. 32nd St., Billings, MT ~ private