MSDB Original PWA BuildingCourtesy the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind
The predecessor to the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind was founded in Boulder, MT the late 1800s. The school served deaf, blind, and “feeble-minded” children. As the school — and particularly its “feeble-minded” student population — continued to expand during the early 1900s, the Montana’s state legislature “voted [in January 1934] to segregate the departments of the deaf and the blind from the department of the feeble-minded” (MSDB—A Short History).
In doing so, the legislature approved a new campus, moving the school from the town of Boulder to the city of Great Falls, which donated ten acres of land on the east side of town for the school.
Construction on the new school “began in 1935 with federal money and under the direction of the Public Works Administration” (MSDB).
Montana’s Big Timber Pioneer newspaper reported that construction had been completed by April 1936, though the school formally opened and was dedicated in the fall of 1937.
The building included “classrooms, trade shops, kitchens, dining rooms, laundry, recreation rooms, dormitories, hospital, gymnasium, boiler room and staff quarters” (MSDB).
The school’s current Superintendent informs Living New Deal that the original PWA-funded school building was expanded but has since been demolished:
“The building and an adjacent boiler house served as the school and dormitory until classroom additions were made in the 1950’s. A new school building was completed in 1972 and new dormitories and a recreation facility were completed in 1984-86. The original 1937 structure was demolished in 1986.”
The original school building was located at the west side of the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind campus, between Central Ave. and 2nd Ave. North, along [the east side of] 38th Street North.
MSDB—A Short History. Compiled and written by Florence S. McCollom and Betty K. Van Tighem [1893-1993], and Diane Moog and Betty K. Van Tighem [1993-2012]. Provided by the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind. "Treasure State News in Brief"; Big Timber Pioneer, Apr. 23, 1936 (page 2)
Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish on February 4, 2014.
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