All-School Reunion: History of Three Forks Schools
June 23, 2021
Since there will be an All School Reunion this summer, maybe some information about the beginnings of the school system in Three Forks would be appropriate at this time. Information for this article was provided by the Headwaters Heritage History, published in 1983 by the Three Forks Area Historical Society.
In September of 1909, a building on 1st Avenue West between Grove and Hickory was the first school house in the new town of Three Forks. It was owned by W. J. Walsh and had been used as a rooming house. By the 16th of September, the building was ready. Two teachers were hired, Mr. O. F. Moore and Miss F. Hoelline, each at $75 per month for the term. The building was rented for $400 and janitor service for the year was $210. It was only used for one year.
A new school was built and ready for students by August, 1910 on the block that is now the Bertagnolli Park, located at 4th Avenue East and Cedar Street. $6, 552 was paid on the school. Mr. Moore returned as principal, Barbara Heeb and Erma Wegner were the teachers. By 1911, there were four teachers. The first year of high school was added and each year, another year of high school was added. In 1914, over 200 students were enrolled. The first graduation was held in 1915 in the Methodist Church for three students, Margaret Young, Pierce Scott and John Schmidt.
In 1916, Valley View and Grant Smith schools in Broadwater County were consolidated with Three Forks. Due to the high enrollment then, it became necessary to build a larger school. A "modern" brick building was erected on Second Avenue East at a value of $43,800, and by 1918, 310 students were enrolled with twelve teachers employed. A gymnasium was built next to the school in 1932. An earthquake in 1925 caused damage to the building, but it was repaired and used until its destruction in 1978.
The high school building on Neal Street was built in 1953. A new gymnasium was added in 1969 and then a new grade school in 1977.
A $25 million renovation and building project is currently underway for the schools and will be completed next year.
The 2021 All School Reunion will be held July 16-17 at the John Q. Adams Railroad Park. Contact [email protected] for more information.