Save Montana's Historical Buildings!
Virginia City School House
Professor Thomas Dimsdale, author of The Vigilantes of Montana, opened the first school in the gold camp in the fall of 1863. In 1864 a log cabin built where the Methodist Church now stands, served for preaching on Sundays and school during the week. There were eighty-one registered students. Virginia City School District #1 organized in January 1866, and the first public school in the Montana Territory opened in March. Sarah Raymond Herndon, later Madison County superintendent of schools, was the first teacher. She paid $6.00 in "clean gold dust" to take an examination at home earning her teaching certificate. This school opened in January 1876. Designed by Loren Olds, architect of the Madison County Courthouse, the community built the four-room brick school for $8,400. It is one of Montana's oldest surviving schoolhouses. A 1910 addition accommodated increased enrollment. A severe earthquake in 1959 necessitated the removal of its wooden bell tower and prompted installation of larger windows to the north and south. The school closed its historic doors to the last students in 1976. The space housed the Madison County offices until 2006, when the building's structural damage became too dangerous for the building to be inhabited.
1959 Earthquake Damage