HAMILTON, Mont. - Kids could once again fill the halls of the now vacant Grantsdale School, southeast of Hamilton. Hamilton Christian Academy plans to buy it.
Preschool to eighth grade students now attend the private Christian school at the Assembly of God Church in Hamilton. But the Academy is expanding its offerings to include a high school.
Moving to Grantsdale would mean continuing a long-running history in the old pioneer community.
When Grantsdale School closed last year it ended 124 years of education service. Touted as Montana's oldest continuously operating school, the old hitching post now overlooks a silent playground.
But head of school at the Christian Academy Stephanie Beck sees new life in Grantsdale School's rooms.
"A school building is a great place for a school," said Beck.
59 youngsters now attend the Academy in Hamilton, and numbers are growing.
The Grantsdale building and its 5.8 acres cost $170,000. The Academy has raised most of the money. But it needs to raise $54,000 in a week to meet the closing date. The school doesn't want any debt.
Real estate broker Corky Pigman said, "They want it free and clear in order to operate."
The school's vision is to open its doors to include more Christians of all denominations.
"We feel that being in a more non-sectarian location will offer that opportunity," said Beck.
Grantsdale School isn't as large as the current Academy. But Beck said it offers more opportunities for expansion. There are already plans to remodel the building.
At least one Grantsdale resident welcomes the sound of children in the playground again.
Barb Watkins said, "We like that idea. We wanted it to stay a school."
The Academy could reopen Grantsdale School to students next fall.