The following is a short exerpt from the application to put Central Elementary School in the National Historic Register. The complete application is available for download on the Other Information Page.


Roundup Central Elementary School

 National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

Central School 2006

Written and Compiled by Stephanie Shipp

With assistance from Kate Hampton

 Montana Historical Society December 2007


In 1908, or perhaps a year earlier, the Milwaukee Land Company, a subsidiary of the Milwaukee Railroad, plotted the town site of Roundup. At first, most of the businesses, including stores, salons, restaurants and hotels were built along Railway Avenue and Second Street East. Within a year or two, businesses began to move up the hill to the present Main Street and beyond. By foresight of the town's officials or more likely by they Milwaukee Land company, a square block of land was reserved for an anticipated school. This block of land is the site of the present Central School. At that time it was just an empty sage brush flat, way off on the edge of town. There were a few scattered houses in the vicinity but no well-defined streets, no sidewalks and no trees. In fact, there wasn't a single tree on the entire town site of Roundup. The first school building was not, however, located on this selected block, but was in a two room building on the northeast corer of Second Street West and Second Avenue. By the spring of 1909, the population increase necessitated the construction of a larger school building and this was built on the chosen square block of land between First and Second Street West on Sixth Avenue. This school was a two-story four room frame building, with two rooms on the first floor and two on the second floor with a connecting outside stairway. The total cost was $1,960. An outside well with pump supplied drinking water. Heat was, of course, a coal burning stove in each room. The above described structure was in use as the Roundup School from 1909 to 1911, but, even as it was being built, the need for an even larger building was obvious and in 1911 the west half of the present Central School was constructed. In appearance it was just as it is now. There were four rooms downstairs and four up with no basement, no inside toilets and no central heating system. Warmth was again supplied by a coal burning stove in each room. While under construction, the four room frame building was in use as well as two or three rooms rented on Main Street for some grades. It was evident that a still larger school was required and the east half of the present Central School was built in 1913. (The frame school house was then moved to the northwest corner of Main Street and Eighth Avenue and served as Musselshell County's first courthouse. An addition was constructed and a vault installed at a cost of $580 and it served as courthouse until 1940 when the present one was built. It was then converted into an apartment building.) School Board members during the time of construction were Wm. Ray, W.D. Jameson, J. W. Newton, and J. M. Pyles (chairman). W. E. Ed Wynn was the builder. The cost of the east end of the building was $14,823, exclusive of the heating system later installed. There was a basement under the east half of the structure, inside plumbing and drinking fountains. Thus, the building constructed in 1911-1913 still constitutes the main portion of the Central School. For several years it housed the entire Roundup School system, including a high school which was in the top four rooms of the west portion of the building. It graduated its first high school class consisting of three girls in 1914. During the earlier years of its use, every foot of the building was occupied, even the attic, which held two classrooms and the chemistry laboratory. Present day fire codes would, of course, now prevent this. In the many decades of its existence, pupil enrollment pressure, changed in curriculum, in teaching methods, student busing, building codes and other factors required some alterations and remodeling of the Central School. The first break to relieve enrollment pressure came in 1916 when the four room Lincoln grade school was constructed at Camp No. 3 and which operated until 1932. The second student enrollment relief came in 1918 when a new high school was constructed on Third Street West. This permitted use by the grade school of rooms formerly occupied b the high school. Another innovation which afforded population pressure relief at the Central School was the establishment of the Catholic school in 1922. Besides the grade school, this included the first two years of high school and the school was in session until 1950. This substantial building is now owned and occupied by the Musselshell Valley Historical Museum. The final and perhaps the greatest change to affect the enrollment pressure of the Central School was the founding in 1926 of the junior high school. This removed the seventh and eighth grades to new quarters built as an addition to the senior high school and left the Central School to the sole occupancy of grades one through six, which is the status to the present day. In order to accommodate further educational demands, an addition was made to the west end of the Central School in 1962. This addition serves as the lunch room for the entire Roundup school and as a meeting place for the people of this community. In 1975, in order to meet escalating educational demands and to obviate the construction of a new grade school, a four room, on story structure was added to the north side of the Central School. Both additions are of brick construction. Over the course of its seventy-three years existence, the Central School has required maintenance and repairs, sometimes quite extensive. These have been accomplished at a far less cost than a new grade school building, thus saving the tax payers of the school district large amounts of money. After all these years of use, the Central school still stands a well preserved, structurally sound building. It is not the near palace that some schools are, but it still serves its purpose admirably and should do so for many years to come.