This rural one-room schoolhouse was built in 1907 by John Rankin, father of Jeanette Rankin. It was originally located north of Missoula in the lower Grant Creek drainage, a farming area that it served until 1937. The structure has been restored to its 1920s appearance with the help of the Eta Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. It is used to interpret the history of the region’s one-room schoolhouses.
Can you spot... the difference between the two flags on the far wall?
The smaller flag has 48 stars because there were only 48 states when this Grant Creek School was in use between 1907 and 1937. Alaska and Hawaii both became states in 1959.
Grant Creek schoolhouse was named for Richard Grant, who brought his family to Hell Gate in 1858 and settled along the creek that now bears his name. Richard’s daughter, Julia, later married Christopher P. Higgins, one of the founders of both Hell Gate and Missoula.
Over ten years later in 1870, John Rankin, the son of Scottish immigrants, made his way to Missoula and constructed a ranch and sawmill along the Grant Creek. This sawmill eventually provided the lumber for building Fort Missoula, as well as for the first Grant Creek Schoolhouse. The Rankin family had a long history with the Grant Creek Schoolhouse. Three of Rankin’s children –Mary, Edna and Grace- attended the school. Harriet later taught at the school. It is said that Jeanette Rankin may have served there as a substitute teacher too. Jeanette later became the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress.
It is unknown exactly when the first Grant Creek Schoolhouse was built, though it was likely built before 1880. The Grant Creek Schoolhouse that now stands at the Museum was built in 1907 and used by the Grant Creek School District until 1937. Many of the teachers lived on nearby ranches and farms.
The Grant Creek Schoolhouse is a one-room schoolhouse with an attached porch that was used as a cloakroom and for wood storage. There was no well or indoor plumbing at the school, so students had to carry in buckets from the creek and use outhouses located behind the schoolhouse. Teaching aids in the classroom included a globe, pull-down maps and a piano. For recess, there was a set of swings and a baseball field. Students who rode horses to school could tie them up to native trees that surrounded the school.
The Grant Creek School District was abandoned in 1947. Nearly thirty years later, its owners, Reed and Kathy Marbut, donated the schoolhouse to the Museum. Through the efforts of the Eta Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma, a teaching sorority, the school was reconstructed and furnished to resemble a 1920s one-room schoolhouse.
Today, the schoolhouse is used as an educational tool for local students to experience what it would have been like to attend school in a one-room schoolhouse. An exhibit in the school’s porch discusses the history of the school, and gives a view into the restored classroom. The Grant Greek Schoolhouse at Fort Missoula gives visitors a look into the past of Montana’s educational roots.