The folks trying to save the Rattlesnake's Lincoln School have always thought big.
You'd have to, really, to imagine saving the school from the residential housing market, where it might fetch $500,000.
But the effort to save the school is still under way. Cynthia Manning, president of the Lincoln School Cultural Center, said the fundraising effort has been tough, but the group is still pushing ahead.
"It's turned out to be a huge endeavor, larger than we envisioned, but I think we're getting back on course," said Manning.
The 94-year-old school is part of a larger housing development being built by R.C. Hobbs, a part-time Missoula resident. Hobbs is building a dozen homes on the triangle of land occupied by the school, and the school itself is up for sale as a single family home or a duplex.
The possibility of the historic school becoming a house spurred the neighborhood to action. The idea of turning the school into a cultural center surfaced quickly, efforts to raise money flourished and the group Preserve Historic Missoula got involved.
Although the fundraising effort was mostly an organic, grassroots undertaking, it soon became clear the effort was troubled.
"What happened is the reality of raising this amount of money set in and we had to adjust our sights," said Dan Hall of Preserve Historic Missoula.
The grassroots effort has now morphed into an attempt to draw money from a variety of sources, including traditional financing and grants from large foundations.
Hall said the group is also working on a business plan to show potential funders that the planned cultural center could produce a revenue stream.
"The best thing has been meeting with Roy Hobbs, the developer," said Hall. He's been so gracious and he really wants this to succeed. He's been a complete gentleman to us."
Reporter Michael Moore can be reached at 523-5252 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.