From the April 25, 1997 Nugget
History of HHS by Karolina Topoiski
In 1876 a small high school was ending another year. Most of the graduating classes were small and made up of mostly women. The school, located on Warren Street where the current Central School is located, was known as Helena High School. Classes were held there until a Romanesque new high school was built.
The new high school looked just like most historic mansions do, a three-story brick building with towers. Construction started in 1890 and was finished three years later. It served the city for nearly 45 years. Now this elegant building is a parking lot.
On Sept.19, 1933, a new high school was proposed since there was no room in the building. The attic was even being used. In December the site was selected.
The new $500,000 school was built on Rodney Street. Cafeteria food was supplied by a local café with prices between nine and 14 cents.
This Blast from the Past appeared in the December 21, 1934, issue of the Nugget:
At a most impressive ceremony on Saturday, December 9, the cornerstone of the new Helena High School [current Helena Middle School] building was laid. Mrs. Lyman, a member of our school board, dedicated the building. Mr. E. M. Hall, president of the school board, Mayor Bausch, and Miss Elizabeth Ireland, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, made speeches. The glee club sang one song and the band played a selection. In the cornerstone are the names of all the students, teachers, and those associated with the High School; also a copy of the Vigilante, the last issue of the Nugget, and the most recent issues of the Independent and the Record Herald. Many years hence, these things may be brought to light and cause much interest. Now that this formal ceremony has taken place, we all feel that our building “is.” Even the skeleton gives promise of great accomplishments that will take place within its walls, and gives a sense of freedom which has been sadly lacking these many years.
In 1935 a major earthquake struck the area, damaging the building. Officials of the Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroads offered the school district the use of their passenger coaches, moved onto specially built tracks. The school on wheels was used for two years, until the restoration of HHS was completed and 1000 students moved back in. The restoration cost $90,000. HHS was used until 1955, when it became the new junior high.
The new high school was built on Montana Avenue, once the site of the Chinese gardens. The new HHS is the same one students use today, although it has been added on to a lot.
From the 1982 Vigilante…
Construction started late in June 1981 when a sale of 1.5 million dollars worth of bonds was approved. The construction progressed throughout the summer and on into the school year with some of the new areas being used. Some of these were the cafeteria, new classes in the science wing, and a few classrooms in the Sophomore Hall. The classrooms, hallways, and lockers were the first to be completed. The last things to be finished were the shops, the drafting and electronics rooms, and the kitchen part of the cafeteria.