Big Sky Schoolhouses to be surveyed

Armed with clipboard, volunteer Jim Greene is all smiles in front of the Hydro School.

Photo courtesy of the Montana Preservation Alliance



One-room country schools; don’t we all love them? Did you, a family member, or a friend go to, or perhaps teach at a country school in Fergus or Judith Basin Counties? Or do you have on your property or know about a country school?  

If so, some local residents would like to know about it.  They are volunteer researchers, part of a state-wide effort sponsored by the Montana Preservation Alliance to locate and document all of Montana’s over 2600 historic country schools.  

The Montana Preservation Alliance is a nonprofit working since 1987 to save and protect Montana’s historic places, traditional landscapes and cultural heritage. During the homestead era, the peak of which was from about 1906 to 1917, Fergus and Judith Basin Counties were home to over 270 one- or two-room country schools. Most of them were repurposed for storage, garages, granaries, shops, homes, or were destroyed, but quite a few still remain.  

The Montana Preservation Alliance and the volunteer researchers listed below want to locate as many of the remaining schools as possible. While the researchers and the Montana Preservation Alliance appreciate old photographs and information about where the schools used to be, for this project they want only the locations of standing one or two-room country schools---both those that still look like country schools, and those that have been repurposed. If you have any information that you think would be helpful, please call one of the researchers listed below.

For all of Fergus County, Shirley Barrick, 535-9289, or Fred Ihde, 535-6845; for northern Fergus County, Betty Wickens, 462-5666; for the Roy area, Ken Siroky, 464-5471; for the Grass Range area, Dan or Macie Ahlgren, 428-2439, or Terry Lankutis; for the Judith Basin area, Joe Vavrovsky, 423-5372, or Dan Deegan, 350-1247. 

These researchers, the citizens of Montana, and the Montana Preservation Alliance appreciate your help in preserving an important part of Montana’s rich history.



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