Colstrip 2018

Schoolhouse History & Art Center – Photograph Preservation

The Schoolhouse History and Art Center (SHAC) was originally built in Colstrip, MT in 1924 as a schoolhouse for the growing community of coal miners and area ranchers. After many years of educating the community, it was converted to living quarters for the male teaching staff. Years later SHAC was saved from demolition in 1987 and since that time has committed to providing opportunities for cultural events, art education and to encourage the preservation of the culture and history of Colstrip and the surrounding area. The facility boasts two art galleries as well as a pottery studio and classroom. The past years have shown that SHAC is a facility that fulfills a need in the community, not only as a space for the arts, but an impressive array of events.

In early 2017, the SHAC was gifted a large collection of photographs from Wes Chapman of Ashland, Oregon. Wes was present in Colstrip during the large construction period of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. It was during this time that Colstrip and the surrounding area experienced the growing pains associated with the expansion of the local power plant. The SHAC hoped to preserve and exhibit a selection of the photograph collection for the enjoyment of all community members.

This grant helped the SHAC preserve 19 pieces from the donated Wes Chapman Collection, removing the pieces from the elements and professionally matting each piece. The final pieces were hung in a new gallery space at the SHAC and made available to the public through exhibit openings, school tours and more. Capturing these pieces of history provided a visual link to Colstrip’s heritage, one that all viewers can enjoy for many years to come.

Top – Photographs from the Wes Chapman Collection
Middle – Exterior view of the SHAC
Bottom – A gathering at the SHAC