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Oscar's Park restoring first schoolhouse in Yellowstone County

Oscar's Park restoring first schoolhouse in Yellowstone County
Posted at 6:05 AM, May 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-16 08:05:02-04

BILLINGS — In 1879, the first schoolhouse in Yellowstone County was built and still stands today at Oscar's Park because of the dedication the family running the park has for preserving history.

Oscar's Park, formerly known as Oscar's Dreamland, was created by Oscar and Marcella Cooke. The Cookes' daughter, Marcie Cooke-Limpp, now manages the land with her husband, Rick Limpp, and their kids.

Rick said the family's goal remains the same as Oscar and Marcella's when they first started Oscar's Park: "To save history." Which is why it is so important to restore the schoolhouse on their land.

"It was located on the Newman Ranch not too far from where the current Newman School is,” Rick said. “We tried to save everything we could, including the old barnwood door that was on there.”

Rick said the school had 13 students enrolled in the years it was open. In the early 1970s, Marcella purchased the schoolhouse and Oscar brought it to the land.

After years of weathering, it was time for the family to start restoring the logs and foundation of the school.

“Our goal is to have it back and buttoned up in the next two months,” Rick said.

The family planned to start restoring the first schoolhouse last summer, but June's historic flooding pushed the project back.

“Amazing as it might seem, there was like, up north of here in my shop I had almost three feet of water. To the east and the west of the town, there was anywhere from a foot to two feet of water, but the town stayed high and dry,” Rick said.

Rick said they also plan on putting up another structure over the schoolhouse to make sure the building stays standing as long as possible.

“It’s our history. It’s where we’ve been. And that way hopefully kids from 100 years from now can look and say wow that was from our town,” he said.