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The schoolhouse in Montana is the heart of the community



Helena, Montana – Even though it is no longer in use to instruct students, the Unionville Schoolhouse has played a significant role in the community’s development over the past 70 years by strengthening ties among neighbors.

“This space is the heart of our community, I would say. It is and has always been a community space,” says community organizer and volunteer general contractor, Anna Baker.

For many years, the Unionville Schoolhouse has been a mainstay of the town. When the structure was brought to Unionville in the 1870s from a mining operation, it was first utilized as a schoolhouse.

Children from the neighborhood were then required to attend Helena schools in the 1950s, and the structure was converted into a community center.

To foster a sense of community and shared celebration, locals would throw get-togethers, parties, potlucks, picnics, and musical performances.

“So, it’s been important to me that my children grow up knowing their neighbors in the same way that I was lucky enough to,” says Baker.

A few people went to install a new bell and construct a dome to house it about two years ago. The depth of the old house’s damage was quickly revealed to them.

Locals sprang into action to assist in bringing the structure back to its previous splendor.

The huge window and wall on the side of the building were soon to be replaced with the help of a grant from The Foundation for Montana History.

The county has contributed an additional $100,000 in ARPA monies to help rebuild the foundation and other crucial elements.

Recently, the building was moved right next to its previous location so that work on a new foundation could begin.

Baker anticipates that the building will be able to host community activities once more in a year.

“I would hope by a year from now we’ll be having a schoolhouse warming party and able to use the building again,” says Baker.

According to Baker, the building’s presence in the neighborhood is essential to Unionville’s community and to preserving the town’s center.

“I would say this building is the heart of Unionville. We have a very tight-knit community here. We know our neighbors and we work together on other projects. It’s common that we help each other out building sheds and framing houses. I think that this building is the reason that we have a tight-knit community because we have this space to come together on common ground and know each other as neighbors,” says Baker.


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