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Women’s club purchases Old Rollins Schoolhouse

by Lake County Leader
| November 18, 2021 12:20 AM

The Women of Rollins Club have completed the purchase of the Old Rollins Schoolhouse, a small, white structure overlooking Flathead Lake above the east shore of Canal Bay in Rollins since 1911.

The historic schoolhouse, leased for decades by the Women of Rollins Club, was listed for sale for $500,000 as a "unique opportunity to own a piece of history." The Upper West Shore Elementary School District recently made the tough decision to sell the property to help fund improvements for its growing student population.

“Nov. 1, 2021 saw the advent of a new life for the Old Rollins Schoolhouse,” club members said in a press release issued Monday. “The schoolhouse once owned by the Dayton School District was purchased by the Women of Rollins Club. This was made possible due to the generous contribution made to the club by Jim Hollensteiner and his family.”

Hollensteiner has lived in Rollins for 40 years and attended the Rollins School in 1943. His aunt, Lena Stahl, was a teacher at the school 115 years ago.

“The Hollensteiner family has been instrumental in financing many other charitable organizations in the area,” states the press release. “The Flathead is very lucky to have this generous family as one of its long time residents.”

Constructed in 1911 and 1912 on land donated by Ed Ekman, the school had a single room until another was added later in the school's operation. Ekman, a stone mason, laid the foundation himself and installed the school's hardwood floors.

The school itself was constructed by Richard Louis Uhde, and a basement was dug out by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.

In the 1950s, students carried water from a faucet to the school, which had no running water, and went to the bathroom in a pair of outdoor privies west of the building.

By the late 1960s, there were not enough students for Dayton and Rollins to operate separate schools, so grades 1-4 attended classes in Rollins while students in fifth through eighth grades went to school in Dayton.

Only first and second grades were taught at the school in its final year of operation during the 1971-72 school year. Rollins, Proctor and Dayton consolidated their schools in summer 1972 to form the Upper West Shore School District, with all students attending classes in Dayton.

In addition to classes, the schoolhouse hosted numerous Halloween and Christmas parties over the decades.

Down to just seven students in the early 2000s, Dayton Elementary School now enrolls about 60, with more coming every year.

Lake County Superintendent of Schools Carolyn Hall said in September that the district is looking at the possibility of expanding the existing school in Dayton or building a new facility in Proctor to help accommodate the growth, and the sale of the Rollins schoolhouse will help pay for those improvements.

The Women of Rollins Club holds monthly meetings and annual quilting and other events to raise funds for charity and the restoration of the property. They currently have 48 active members, one honorary (Hollensteiner) and 12 lifetime members.

The next step will be a huge fundraising campaign to raise money to restore the building. All contributions will be tax deductible as the club has a 501 (c) (3) designation from the Internal Revenue Service.