Fifteen miles north of Bozeman and ten miles north of Belgrade sits the historic farming and ranching community of Reese Creek. The one-room schoolhouse used to be a community center until it shut down in the 1960s. Now, residents of Reese Creek are looking to restore this building to make it a community hub once again.
“I carry on the tradition that my dad was involved in as part of the first restoration project back in the nineties,” says Dana Doney, president of the Reese Creek Community Board.
The family connections for Doney at the Reese Creek Community Center go back three generations.
“My great-grandma and my great-grandpa right there and ending with my dad,” says Doney.
The century-old, one-room schoolhouse closed its doors to the public in 1965—and since then it's been decades since the Reese Creek community has had a gathering place.
“There was no school and no reason for people to come together,” says Doney.
“This is it for a gathering place unless you go into Bozeman or in Belgrade. This is all we have. But we have new families and new farms coming in like Kokoro flowers,” says resident Maureen Holt.
Doney says it was the newcomers moving to the area who wanted to feel a sense of community.
“They really took notice of the building in its dilapidated condition and wanted to do something. So, it really brought the old and new members together,” says Doney.
So, they got to work years ago to renovate the schoolhouse and for the most part, the hard work is done with a few finishing touches left.
“It's for education, to extend the footprint of the school. For ADA access, there will be a door on that west corner,” says Holt.
With the school bell ringing once again, they are excited to welcome their neighbors, not for class but for community.
“It is about building community. And that's what we're doing it for. So it'll be a gathering place, hopefully for many generations to come,” says Doney.