Over 100 years of Whitefish School stories and photos. Go Bulldogs!
September means it's time for parents to rejoice and kids to groan as school starts up again! For this edition of Stumptown Stories, we are bringing you the best photos and stories of the last 100+ years of school in Whitefish. Flames, fights, and train cars - this newsletter has it all!
Pictured above, school children mill about outside the train car schoolrooms in 1938. These temporary classrooms popped up after an earthquake damaged the school building. To this writer's eye, these classrooms seem like the coolest thing ever! The inside of the cars was fitted with school desks where the students and teachers met during 1938-1939.
The Gym Goes Up in Flames - 1971
Tragedy struck in 1971 when the school gym burned down. Pictured here are the charred remnants of the brick walls.
From the Whitefish Pilot article describing the fire (written by Larry Stem):
WHITEFISH - Red tinged the horizon on two sectors this morning, the faint red of an approaching dawn to the east and the violent flickering red flames which destroyed the Whitefish Junior High School gymnasium.
The alarm struck at 4:20 a.m. Fifteen minutes later Al Ronseth, a member of the Whitefish Fire Department was on the way to North Valley Hospital for treatment of leg injuries.
Ronseth baled out 25 feet up on a ladder when power lines began to fall towards him on his lofty perch. He leaped a split second before the line fell on the very rung where he had been perched.
That Whitefish Pilot article goes on to speculate that faulty wiring was at fault for the fire. However, the ensuing investigation would reveal that the fire was lit by a disgruntled student.
Teachers - The Backbone of Whitefish Education
Whitefish has a strong legacy of amazing teachers! The first teachers in Whitefish were E.M. Hutchinson and Miss Nellie Monk at the two-room Riverside School in 1904.
The teachers pictured above (CA 1929) are favorites of the Stumptown Historical Society. From left to right, Helen Troxel, Esther Zorcher, and Myrtle Madison look ready to handle anything their students can throw at them!
Muldown ca 1953
Countless students sat in their first school class inside this Muldown Elementary building! The school is named after Lloyd A. Muldown (Mully). Mully was hired as a science teacher in 1928. He also served as the Assistant Football Coach from 1928-1936, the Basketball Coach from 1930-1936, and the Track Coach from 1928-1960s.
Lloyd is also called the "Grand Old Man of Big Mountain" because he started skiing there in the early 1930s.
The Home Economics Cottage & Central School
Pictured above, the Home Economics Cottage sits next to Central School while schoolchildren play on the lawn. In addition to hosting many social activities, the Cottage was used as a temporary hospital during the flu epidemic of 1919.
Later on, the Cottage was moved back to the corner of First Street and Kalispell Avenue before finally moving to Baker Avenue where it was home to Howard Hamilton.
Whitefish Central School in 1925
Central High School started in 1911 when 213 people voted yes to the bond (91 voted no). The main building (in the center of this photo) was built in 1913/14 on the corner of Spokane Avenue and Second Street. It housed all twelve grades.
The wings were added in an expansion program in 1919. A temporary gym in the West Wing (on the left in this photo) allowed the basketball program to begin.
Fresh from the Stumptown Historical Society Museum shelves come these Bulldog treasures! Here are a few highlights:
Five letterman letters show the variety of designs used across the years. The "Band" and "Vocal" letters were mass-made, but the other three look to be hand-stitched.
While faithful Bulldogs might recognize the colors of the center pennant as Polson Pirate, this flag belongs firmly in Bulldog history! Bob Wheatley won this Track pennant at the 1927 State Northwestern Track Finals. Bob graduated from Whitefish High in 1927 where he played football, basketball, ran track, and was senior class president.
The ink well, ink bottle, and ink dropper show used to sit on school desks in Whitefish and now show how far technology has come inside the classroom!
The two class rings on the right side of the photo are from 1989 (left) and 1926 (right).
The green ballpoint pen is a novelty pen from the 1972-1973 basketball season that showed the schedule:
11/24-25 - Kalispell Invitational Tournament
12/1 - Kalispell
12/2 - Hellgate
12/9 - Anaconda
12/10 - Butte C.
12/15 - Libby
12/16 - Columbia Falls
1/5 - Dillon
1/6 - Anaconda
1/12 - Hamilton
1/13 - Deer Lodge
1/19 - Polson
1/26 - Hamilton
1/27 - Deer Lodge
2/2 - Anaconda C
2/3 - Dillon
2/8 - Columbia Falls
2/16 - Polson
2/17 - Libby
Thanks for reading this story celebrating the history of schools in Stumptown!