Malmborg School

E of Bozeman, Bozeman, Montana


Malmborg School

Photo taken by David Jones in June 2015




"Built in 1905, Malmborg School is one of the most architecturally interesting one-room schoolhouses in Gallatin County. The one-story octagonal school originally sported an open front porch with wooden Doric columns resting on high plinths. An open bell tower, also supported by Doric columns, at one time capped the roof. The bell tower—normally associated with church architecture—provided a moral overtone to the building’s design, while the residential-style front porch visually linked school and home. Most often found in mid-Atlantic states in predominantly Dutch communities, octagonal schools are also associated with mid-nineteenth-century reformer Orson Fowler, who promoted the “Octagon Mode of Building” in his book, A Home for All. Architectural pattern books offered plans for octagonal schools and listed their benefits: the least amount of wall length for the most enclosed space, good light and ventilation, and uniform warmth. The school’s north windows were walled in after 1919 to prevent cross lighting from harming students’ vision, and a shed addition in the 1940s provided space for indoor restrooms. The desire to offer students a wider curriculum led to school consolidation and the closure of many one-room schools across Montana. Despite proximity to the state’s fifth largest city, Malmborg School managed to resist the pressure of consolidation. Built to educate the children of farmers, ranchers, and railroaders, Malmborg School today serves children whose parents often work in Bozeman. In 2003, ten students, grades kindergarten through eighth, attended Malmborg School, the only known octagonal school in Montana." - NRHP/Montana Historical Society plaque

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on July 21, 1981
Reference number
Architectural style
Other architectural type; Octagonal schoolhouse
Areas of significance
Education; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
School; Animal facility
Current functions
School; Research facility
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Significant year
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 2

Update Log 

  • July 15, 2019: Updated by Richard Doody: Added historical information
  • December 19, 2018: New photos from David Jones